Army vet accused of plowing car into pedestrians to face new hate crime charges

/ CBS/AP

San Francisco — Prosecutors will file hate crime charges against a former Army sharpshooter accused of eight counts of attempted murder after he deliberately plowed his car into pedestrians at a California crosswalk last month, authorities said Thursday. Two hate crime allegations will be filed against 34-year-old Isaiah Joel Peoples, a veteran of the Iraq war, said Sean Webby, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Peoples targeted the victims because he believed they were Muslim, Sunnyvale Police Chief Phan Ngo said after the incident. His mother said he has struggled with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Peoples showed no remorse after his car intentionally plowed at high speed into a group of people April 24 in a crosswalk in Silicon Valley, then went on to hit a tree, Ngo has said.

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A 9-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were among those injured. The girl remains in a coma with brain trauma.

Witness Don Draper said he marched over to Peoples' car after he crashed, and he found the driver muttering over and over, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus." But Ngo said that "he did not behave in any manner that would be considered bizarre," when taken into custody at the time.

Isaiah Joel Peoples appears at a court hearing May 16, 2019. AP

Peoples could enter a plea at a hearing expected later Thursday in San Jose. 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.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help 13-year-old Dhriti had raised more than $623,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

Army vet drove into victims he thought were Muslim, police say

First published on May 30, 2019 / 4:40 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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