California

FBI Opens Hate Crime Investigation in Sunnyvale Crash

The FBI San Francisco Field Office has opened a hate crime investigation into the Sunnyvale plowing that injured eight people Tuesday, the government office said Saturday.

This comes after a Muslim civil rights organization called for a continuing probe into what police say is an anti-Muslim attack that occurred when a man drove into eight people.

Isaiah Peoples, 34, was charged Thursday with eight counts of attempted murder in connection with a collision on El Camino Real that left a 13-year-old girl in critical condition and injured seven others.

"We are in touch with the District Attorney's office and appreciate their commitment to continue to investigate this as a hate crime," said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"If there is evidence to support the allegations that (Peoples) was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, appropriate hate crime enhancements must be filed," Billoo said.

On Thursday, police discovered evidence that Peoples "intentionally targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith," Phan Ngo, chief of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, said Thursday.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to Ngo.

The crash happened at El Camino Real and Saratoga Sunnyvale Road around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.

According to police, Peoples had picked up food and was taking it to his Bible study group when he drove a black, four-door sedan into a group of pedestrians at a crosswalk and sidewalk.

Investigators are also looking at whether Peoples' actions were influenced by post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered as a result of his Army service in Iraq from 2005 to 2006.

Peoples' defense attorney, Chuck Smith, said, "This act was clearly a product of some mental disorder or mental defect," and disputed that Peoples drove into the victims intentionally.

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