Army vet to face new hate crime charges in Sunnyvale crash

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- In Santa Clara County, prosecutors say the man accused of deliberately plowing his car into a crowd of pedestrians in a Sunnyvale crosswalk specifically targeted two of the victims because he thought they were Muslim.

"I pray for the strength that we will need to hold this perpetrator accountable," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

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Sunnyvale resident Isaiah Peoples appeared in court Thursday afternoon, where he learned of the two hate crime charges being added to his case. He had been charged in April with eight counts of attempted murder in connection to the crash at El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Avenue.

Investigators believe the Army veteran was on his way to a Bible study when the incident happened. Prosecutors say the two victims related to the hate crime charges are an Indian Hindu man and his 13-year-old daughter. She remains on life support.

"We feel confident that a substantial motivating factor was the perceived religion," said Rosen.

RELATED: Here's what we know about Isaiah Peoples and the Sunnyvale car crash on El Camino

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety believes the crash was intentional based on the lack of skid marks at the scene.

"This is something that affects all of us. If it's not one of us today, it could be one of us tomorrow that are targeted," said Samir Kalra, managing director of the Hindu American Foundation.

Kalra says there has been an uptick in these sorts of perceived religion violence cases in the post 9/11 era.

"It's really important that we all come together, put aside any differences that we may have, and try our best to build bridges, amongst our communities, (and) educate others," said Kalra.

Peoples' relatives spoke with ABC7 News off-camera, saying Peoples is a devout Christian who comes from a mixed race family with multiple religions represented. They believe he suffers from PTSD as a result of his military service and say he continues to pray daily while in custody.

Peoples will return to court in mid-July to enter a plea. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
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