The mother of a Northern California man arrested after he allegedly plowed into a group of pedestrians, injuring eight, says her son is an Army vet who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder while serving in Iraq.
Leevell Peoples told The Associated Press on Wednesday her son Isaiah Peoples is a “model citizen” and would not deliberately drive his car into pedestrians.
She says the only situation she can imagine could have influenced her son is a bout of PTSD.
Leevell Peoples says Isaiah was an Army sharpshooter in Iraq but was discharged because of his PTSD.
She adds he had “a bad episode” with PTSD about two years ago.
Police said Peoples, 34, a Sunnyvale resident, was being interviewed by the FBI on Wednesday. The FBI is assisting the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety in the investigation. They are still trying to determine a motive.
All eight pedestrians injured, including a 13-year-old, were hospitalized Tuesday evening after a suspected speeding driver, later identified as Peoples, drove into them in Sunnyvale, California. The victims’ conditions were not immediately known.
FBI agents and police were seen Wednesday afternoon searching Peoples’ residence in Sunnyvale.
“Should it be determined that a federal crime was committed, we will become more involved,” the FBI said in a statement.
The crash was reported at 6:40 p.m. at the intersection of El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Saratoga Road, which is located near a number of restaurants and other businesses.
Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Jim Choi late Tuesday said police were investigating the incident as an intentional act due to initial statements made at the scene.
“We have preliminary evidence from witnesses that he was accelerating, doesn’t look like he tried to brake at all,” Choi said.
The car involved in the collision is registered to Peoples, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
An IHOP receipt recovered from the site of the crash shows the name of an Isaiah Peoples who used a Visa card to pay for his purchase on April 13.
Personal information on what appears to be Peoples’ Facebook page, but wasn’t confirmed by NBC Bay Area, shows went to school at California State University, Sacramento.
Victims’ belongings and bicycles lined the path the car took before the driver crashed into a tree.
A man who witnessed the crash that injured eight people says when he approached the driver’s side of the car, the man was repeatedly saying, “thank you Jesus.”
Don Draper, of San Jose, says he was enraged after seeing the Toyota Corolla slam into pedestrians at high speed, then crash into a tree. He says he marched up to the car ready to confront the driver.
Draper says the driver was crouched over the steering wheel, unhurt. The car was hissing steam and the airbag had deployed.
Draper said the driver’s speech was not slurred and he did not look at him.
Later, he saw the driver had climbed out of his car and was lying face down on the grass outside.
Kristofer Noceda, Jean Elle, Bob Redell and Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this story.
Major injury collision at El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd. El Camino is closed in both directions. Avoid area. https://t.co/DEFugvzLyi
— Sunnyvale DPS (@SunnyvaleDPS) April 24, 2019
Investigating a major incident involving multiple victims at El Camino Real/Saratoga Sunnyvale Road. We’ll be available for media inquiries at parking lot of Allario’s, 564 South Murphy.
— Phan Ngo (@SunnyvaleChief) April 24, 2019
— Jean Elle (@nbcjeanelle) April 24, 2019
UPDATE per @SunnyvaleDPS Capt. Jim Choi on preliminary investigation: Driver deliberately drove into a group of 8 pedestrians. Driver in custody. Victims all transported to local hospitals. https://t.co/Pr8HNYmpn4pic.twitter.com/VDInoFAHQt
— Kristofer Noceda (@krisnoceda) April 24, 2019
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Mom-Man-who-plowed-into-8-people-is-Army-vet–509024221.html.