US driver targeted family because they looked Muslim, police say

Former soldier faces possible hate crime charges over attack in Sunnyvale, California

FILE - This April 23, 2019, file image from video provided by KGO-TV, shows the scene of a car crash where several pedestrians were struck and injured in Sunnyvale, Calif. A former Army sharpshooter with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder plowed his car at high speed into a group of pedestrians in a Silicon Valley suburb, injuring eight people, then told authorities that he intentionally hit them, police said. Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, gave no indication why he targeted the group in Sunnyvale, Calif., authorities said. He was charged Thursday, April 25, 2019, with eight counts of attempted murder. (KGO-TV via AP, File)
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A man who deliberately drove into a crowd of pedestrians in California last week, injuring eight, did so because he thought some of them were Muslims, police said.

The driver was charged with eight counts of attempted murder but is now being investigated for a hate crime after new evidence emerged that he was targeting members of the crowd based on their appearance, according to police in Sunnyvale, near San Francisco.

Police identified the driver as Isaiah Peoples, 34, a town resident who with the US army in Iraq and was honourably discharged in 2006.

"There is new evidence that Peoples intentionally targeted victims based on their race and belief that they were Muslim," Sunnyvale Public Security said.

Jay Boyarsky, the Santa Clara County chief assistant district attorney, said the the new evidence was "appalling and disturbing".

The eight pedestrians injured on Tuesday ranged in age from 9 to 52 and included a father and his son and daughter. The daughter, described as 13-year-old girl of South Asian descent, remains in a coma with severe brain trauma. The nationality and religion of the family have not been released.

A lawyer for the driver said the incident "was clearly the result of a mental disorder", and he would seek psychiatric treatment for his client – who he described as a military veteran possibly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Peoples did not enter a plea when he appeared in court on Friday. His next court appearance will be on May 16.