An army veteran who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of people in California, critically injuring one, was targeting Muslims, authorities said Friday.
Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, faces eight counts of attempted murder for allegedly committing the Tuesday attack and was ordered held with no bail, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Based on our investigation, new evidence shows that the defendant intentionally targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith,” Sunnyvale Police Chief Phan Ngo said, according to the newspaper.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Borarsky told the Chronicle that hate crime charges were not filed but that such charges would be filed “if the investigation yields enough evidence.”
“There is very appalling, 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,” he added. “We have zero tolerance for any sort of hate crime.”
Chuck Smith, Peoples' lawyer, told The Chronicle that Peoples did not purposefully try to run people down and blamed the incident on a mental disorder.
“This act was clearly the product of some mental disorder or mental defect,” Smith said after the hearing. “There is no explanation for this other than his service, the things he saw, and what happened to him mentally while serving our country.”
Peoples' brother also told the paper that Peoples has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after he returned from serving in the Army.
A 13-year-old girl was critically injured in the incident.