The Santa Clara County District Attorney has added two hate crime charges to the list of counts against Isaiah Peoples.
Witnesses say 34-year-old Peoples drove into a crowd of pedestrians on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale on the evening of April 23. Prosecutors say the evidence shows that Peoples was targeting two of the people in the crowd because he thought they were Muslim or Indian.
Peoples did not enter a plea when he appeared in court on Thursday, May 30 to face the new hate crime charges. He is expected to be back in court on July 11.
“Prejudice is not harmless. Someone’s child is in critical condition today because of someone’s ignorance and hatred,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen in a statement about the new charges filed against Peoples. “We stand with her and her family, and all of our Muslim and Indian neighbors. We will be steadfast in our work to hold this person criminally responsible.”
A 13-year-old girl was one of eight people injured in the April 23 attack. She remains in the hospital and as of last week was still in a coma. Her father and brother were also injured. Four of the eight people hit were treated at the scene or released from the hospital within 24-hours of the attack.
Peoples’ attorney, Chuck Smith, continues to dispute the idea that this was an “intentional act.” Smith told the Associated Press that what happened on April 23 was “…a product of some mental disorder or mental defect.”
The hate crime charges will be added to the eight counts of attempted murder. Four of those counts also include enhancements for causing great bodily injury. Peoples is being held without bail. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
In a show of solidarity with the victims of the attack, the City of Sunnyvale in conjunction with Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) held a “Unity Gathering” on the night of Wednesday, May 29 to talk about inclusiveness in the Sunnyvale community.
Hundreds of community members showed up for the event, which included a panel of local religious leaders.
The City of Sunnyvale posted the following statement about the “Unity Gathering” on its Twitter account: “Light & love not hate & fear…let’s come together to find a path forward for our community.”
Sunnyvale Community Services is working with the City of Sunnyvale and Sunnyvale DPS to collect donations for the eight victims.
To find out how you can help, visit www.svcommunityservices.org. All donations will be tax deductible.