34-year-old Isaiah Joel Peoples plowed through a crowded street in Sunnyvale, Calif. on Tuesday, striking and injuring eight before crashing into a tree. Though no one was killed in the crash, the injured range in age from 9 to 52 years old.
Police say the Iraq War veteran intentionally ran down the group of pedestrians based on their skin color and assumed Muslim faith, according to the New York Daily News. He has been charged with eight counts of attempted murder and is facing life in prison.
“There’s no hate crime allegation charge at this point in time for one reason only, the matter is still being investigated,” said Jay Boyarsky, Santa Clara County chief assistant district attorney to reporters Friday.
Peoples, a sharpshooter during the war was not acting erratically, but showed no remorse at his time of arrest, authorities said. Peoples served in the Army from 2004 to 2006, then served in the Army reserve in 2008, after his honorable discharge.
“There is very appalling and disturbing evidence that at least one or two of these victims were targeted based on the defendant’s view of what their race or religion may have been,” Boyarsky added.
Peoples, who was on his way to Bible study, could be by witnesses heard thanking either God or Jesus after the crash, according to Department of Public Safety Police Chief Phan Ngo.
His mother, Leevell Peoples, said that he was hospitalized after a “bad episode” of PTSD. Chuck Smith, Peoples’ attorney, does not dispute the facts at hand, noting his client’s mental state should be considered, he told CBS News.
“He served our country, honorably and admirably and he’s led an otherwise blameless life,” Smith said. “So there’s no explanation for this other than his service, the things he saw and what happened to him mentally while serving our country.”
Peoples has no criminal record. Smith told reporters that Peoples was praying for those injured in the attack.