FBI investigating Sunnyvale crash as hate crime

Bay Area

SUNNYVALE (KRON) — “We’re going to hold this man accountable for the horrific crimes he committed,” said Santa Clara County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Boyarsky on Friday condemned last Tuesday’s incident in Sunnyvale where eight people were allegedly run over on purpose as a brazen attack on the entire community.

34-year-old Isaiah Peoples is already charged with eight counts of attempted murder.

Sunnyvale police say Peoples targeted his victims because he believed they are Muslim.

If the evidence checks out, Peoples could be charged with a hate-crime enhancement, says former prosecutor and legal analyst Steven Clark.

“What the hate crime statute is designed to do is add additional punishment to a crime because it protects entire communities and tries to recognize that entire communities can be affected, even by a crime targeting individuals,” Clark said.

The FBI has launched its own hate crime investigation in the case, which left a 13-year-old girl in critical condition.

Also condemning the act, is Sameena Usman, with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking for a child to be a victim of an attack like this,” she said. “We know the DA’s office is investigating this and if the evidence shows this is a hate crime. That makes it far worse.”

“Absolutely we are disputing that this was an intentional act,” said the man’s attorney, Chuck Smith.

Peoples’ attorney and family say the army veteran suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

That is likely to figure into the filing and or defense of any hate crime charges Peoples might face says Steven Clark.

“There doesn’t appear to be anything premeditated at this point about this criminal act and I think the defense is going to focus on whether there is something in his military history that suggests that something like this could occur,” Clark said.

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