SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) — A 34-year-old Sunnyvale man picked up food for his bible study group and was on his way to the gathering when police say he intentionally veered his car into eight pedestrians on a Sunnyvale street, authorities said Thursday.
Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Chief Phan S. Ngo said investigators have yet to uncover a motive or explanation for Isaiah J. Peoples’ actions on Tuesday night.
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“We still do not know what his motives were,” Ngo told reporters. “The only thing we can confirm at this time is that on the day of the incident he had picked up some food and was on his way to deliver his food to his bible study group.”
The FBI said it is assisting Sunnyvale officers, but is not heading the investigation. Ngo said Thursday that his department is still leading the investigation.
“Should it be determined that a federal crime was committed, we will become more involved. For now the Sunnyvale is the lead agency,” Prentice Danner with the FBI’s San Francisco office said in a statement.
Thursday afternoon, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Peoples with eight counts of attempted murder.
Officers responded to a call of a crash around 7:30 p.m. at the intersection of El Camino Real and Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd. and upon arrival discovered several injured pedestrians and Peoples’ car slammed into a tree.
A 13-year-old girl remains in critical condition Thursday morning, and four others are in stable condition. A 9-year-old boy suffered minor injuries and two others were treated and released at the scene.
The teen girl is a seventh-grader at Sunnyvale Middle School.
The district sent KPIX a statement that read in part, “We are sending healing thoughts to the student and will continue to offer our heartfelt support to their family, friends and loved ones.”
While family members have revealed that Peoples suffered from mental illness, Ngo said there were no outward signs of trouble that police were aware of before the crash.
Peoples served in the Army from 2004-2006 and was honorably discharged. He was also in the Army Reserve from 2006-2008.
“He has no criminal history and has been working as a department of defense contractor as a finance auditor,” Ngo said. “The only contact that he had with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety was when he reported a lost item in February of 2018.”
Investigators also have located two Facebook accounts he had maintained and searched them for clues. They will also search through the hard drive of his personal computer.
“There is nothing of significance in his Facebook accounts,” Ngo said.
Police did discovered a “disassembled and inoperable” shotgun in the trunk of his car. No other weapons were located during a search of his home.
Ngo said investigators were also trying to confirm Peoples’ family claims that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder related to his military service.
While witnesses and a victim described Peoples are behaving bizarrely after the crash, Ngo said he behaved normally once he was in custody.
“There were witnesses that stated that he had prayed something similar to thanking God or Jesus — that’s the information that we have,” he told reporters. “When we took him into custody he did not behave in any manner that would be considered to be bizarre…He has not shown any remorse.”
15-year-old Miguel Balbuena, one of the victims the suspect hit with his car, said knowing Peoples’ mental health history doesn’t lessen the anger that he feels.
“No it doesn’t excuse. Because if he’s bad from the mind, he has to go to a doctor and see how they can help him. Not by doing this,” said Balbuena.
Peoples remains in Santa Clara County Jail without bail, He is scheduled to be arraigned on eight counts of attempted murder and other charges at noon on Friday.