Prosecutors Charge Vet in Sunnyvale Crash With Hate Crime

Santa Clara County prosecutors on Thursday filed hate crime charges against the veteran who drove his vehicle through a crowd in Sunnyvale last month, according to the District Attorney's Office.

In addition to eight counts of attempted murder, 34-year-old Isaiah Peoples received two hate crime allegations for allegedly targeting two pedestrians in the crowd on El Camino Real because he believed they were Muslim or Indian.

"Someone's child is in critical condition today because of someone's ignorance and hatred," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "So today, we stand with her and her family, and all of our Muslim and Indian neighbors."

Peoples' mother says her son has struggled with PTSD since returning from Iraq.

Peoples did not enter a plea when he appeared in San Jose court on Thursday. His attorney, Chuck Smith, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Family and friends described Peoples as quiet and polite and expressed shock at his alleged involvement in the crash.

Peoples had no criminal record. He was honorably discharged from the Army, and police were investigating the PTSD report.

His mother, Leevell Peoples of Sacramento, has said her son had "a bad episode" with PTSD in 2015, for which he was hospitalized.

She said the Army forced him to retire because of PTSD.

He had been deployed to Iraq from June 2005 to May 2006, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz. He did not answer questions about whether Peoples' departure from the Army was due to PTSD.

Leevell Peoples said her son graduated from Sacramento State University after returning from Iraq and was working as an auditor for the Defense Department in Mountain View.

People from multiple faiths gathered in Sunnyvale Wednesday for a night of healing.

"If it's happening here in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most liberal parts in the country, you can imagine what's happening in other parts of the country," event organizer Maha Elgenaidi from the Islamic Networks Group said. "My immediate concern was 'Am I under threat for wearing the hijab in public? Could this happen to me?'"

A city survey shows foreign-born residents make up half of Sunnyvale’s population and at the meeting, community leaders shared what they go through and spoke about how they could all unite.

"Hatred, violence, and extremism in all its forms are not welcome in Sunnyvale," said Mayor Larry Klein.

Peoples is facing life in prison if he is convicted.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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