No word on the driver’s motives just yet:
“It was like ‘Death Race 2000,’ ” firefighter Danny Bright said at California and Fillmore streets, as an ambulance stood nearby. “Guys were walking down the sidewalk and the guy just came up and ran them over. The guy went crazy.”
Fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said Mayor Gavin Newsom had been notified and was coordinating the response with the command post at Spruce and California streets.
This afternoon, Newsom left City Hall saying he was en route to a hospital — presumably San Francisco General, where seven people had been admitted.
“Eleven people were hurt in the field, and police are still finding others,” said Lann Wilder, a spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital.
Of those, six adults and one child were being treated for blunt trauma at S.F. General, she said.
Pedestrians were struck in several locations:
Here is what is known so far: People were hit at 12 separate locations along the California Street corridor between Polk Street and Laurel Heights:
* Sutter and Webster
* Polk and Sacramento
* Bush and Divisadero
* Sutter and Steiner
* California and Laurel
* Callifornia and Fillmore
* Divisadero and Pine
* Bush and Pierce
* Fillmore and Bush
* Spruce and California
* 1850 Fillmore
* 3350 California
San Francisco Police Department spokesman Gittens said three of the people with life-threatening injuries were taken to San Francisco General.
It was a good day to skip lunch in San Francisco:
The SUV was finally stopped—it had to be surrounded and rammed by police cars—just outside the Starbucks at Laurel Village just up the block, where I normally walk at lunch, as my bank, several cafes and a bookstore are there. Today, fortunately, I was so busy at work that I didn’t get away for lunch until after 2:00, at which point the events already were over.
A quick run of “Freemont” and “Popal” through Google reveals quite a few hits on various stories about expatriate Afghanis from the area. I still haven’t found a direct hit on the suspects name.
There are conflicting reports about the driver’s mental stability:
Omeed Aziz Popal, now in custody for a fatal hit and run rampage that apparently began in Fremont and ended in San Francisco, has a history of mental problems and lives in fear of the devil, some family members say. Other family members say he may have been anxious because of his recent marriage arranged by his family.
But those involved in the investigation — speaking on condition of anonymity — discount any mental illness, saying Popal seemed coherent, unrepentant and claimed that he repeatedly drove at pedestrians because he “just wanted to.”
A month ago, the 29-year-old Fremont resident and one-time auto worker returned home after getting married in his native Afghanistan, his family said. There was a wedding celebration two weeks ago, and Popal seemed to have everything to live for, some family members said. The family said Popal’s father had arranged the marriage.
“He was so happy and excited about being married — I can’t believe this happened today,” said Homa Aziz, a cousin who lives in Hayward. “Omeed is not that kind of boy. I don’t know what is wrong with him. He is the nicest boy.”
One witness claims that Ohmeed referred to himself as a terrorist but police contradict that. Watch the video.