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Investigators: Peoples was Army Veteran and Department of Defense Contractor

The man witnesses say deliberately drove into a crowd of people in Sunnyvale, hitting at least seven of them, was a veteran of the U.S. Army and a contractor for the Department of Defense.

Isaiah J. Peoples is currently in Santa Clara County Jail and is expected to be charged with eight counts of attempted murder for the April 23 incident at the corner of El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Avenue.

“The suspect served in the Army from 2004-2006 and had an honorable discharge,” said Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Phan Ngo. “He was also in the army reserves from 2006-2008. He has no criminal history and has been working as a Department of Defense contractor as a finance auditor.”

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Chief Ngo says the department is still looking into whether Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) played a part in the incident. Investigators are also waiting for the results of blood tests to see if drugs or medication played a role.

The only contact that Sunnyvale DPS had with Peoples prior to April 23 was when Peoples reported a lost item in February of 2018. The only weapon police found in his possession was a “disassembled and inoperable shotgun” that was in the trunk of his car.

Chief Ngo says all evidence and witness statements point to this being a deliberate act, but officers still do not have a motive.

“There were witnesses that stated that he had praised…something similar to the fact thanking God or Jesus, that’s the information that we had,” said Chief Ngo. “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.”

According to investigators, Peoples had just picked up food and was on the way to deliver that food to his Bible study group when he drove his car into the group of people.

The condition of all the victims remains the same. A 13-year-old girl from Sunnyvale suffered the worst of the injuries and is still in critical condition in the hospital. Three other victims suffered major injuries and are still in the hospital, but are considered stable.

The four other victims had various injuries, but are at home. Two of the eight victims were from Santa Clara; the other six were from Sunnyvale.

Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein issued a statement yesterday saying in part, “It is never easy to understand why these tragic events occur and there are still many unanswered questions…We ask that you join us in keeping the victims in your thoughts and prayers and extending our deepest thanks to those who helped them at the scene and who are caring for them now.”

The investigation is ongoing and Sunnyvale DPS is working with the FBI and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office on the case. Chief Ngo says they did not know Peoples was a contractor with the Department of Defense when the department contacted the FBI for assistance.

“This is a unique situation. We just want to make sure that we’re thorough in our investigation just in case there were federal law violations that were committed that night,” said Chief Ngo. “At this time, we don’t have any information leading to speculations of ties to terrorism, but again, this is an active investigation.”

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