A San Francisco Bay Area operator charged against eight counts of attempted slaying is suspected of targeting the victims because he thought they were Muslim, local authorities said Friday.

Sunnyvale Police Chief Phan Ngo said at a news conference that there’s evidence 34 -year-old Isaiah Joel Peoples intentionally drove his auto into the crowd on Tuesday because he felt some of them were Muslim. He declined to elaborate further.

The car rammed into eight pedestrians in a Sunnyvale intersection. The injured included a South Asian father and his 13 -year-old daughter, who was the most severely injured. Her younger brother was not hit, according to The Mercury News.

Ngo said Friday that the girl “remains in critical condition.”

Jay Boyarsky, the chief assistant district attorney for Santa Clara County, called the evidence “very appalling and disturbing” but said his office has not yet decided to move forward with hate crime charges against Peoples, an Army veteran who lives in Sunnyvale.

“I know that there are questions about what the same reasons of this misdemeanour was, and some of you are wondering about whether this is a hate crime, ” Boyarsky said at Friday’s news conference. “There is no hate crime allegation accused at this spot in time for one reasonablenes only: The problem is still being investigated.”

A operator rammed into eight pedestrians Tuesday at an intersection in Sunnyvale, California.

The eight counts Peoples is facing, four of which have an enhancement for make great bodily injury, carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

At Peoples’ first courtroom appearance Friday, a adjudicate ordered that he be held without bail.

Boyarsky emphasized that all departments involved in the investigation are taking the evidence of incitement very seriously.

“When a crime is committed because of someone’s nationality or their race or their religion, it’s not just that individual victim that is hurt, it’s our whole community, ” he said. “And our whole community stands unified against hatred and bigotry.”

The South Asian family asked that their last name not be released. The other martyrs were identified as Marina Reimler, 32; Soeren Reimler, 33; Ping Lu, 51; Rajesh Narayan, 45; Eric Nava, 24; and Miguel, 15, who was identified by his given name merely. It was not clear Friday which victim is the father of the 13 -year-old girl and her 9-year-old brother, according to The Mercury News.

Islamophobia is on the increaseboth in the U.S. and internationally while anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies have been a mainstay of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that the number of members of assaults against Muslims in the U.S. rose greatly from 2015 to 2016, greatly surpassing the modern top reached in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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