There is simply unbelievable news happening here today — some nutcase/asshole/freak took it into his head this afternoon to, put plainly, run people down. Evidently, he started out in Fremont around noon where he struck and killed a pedestrian. Then he headed for San Francisco, where — at the time I write this — he struck another 14 people in a hit and run spree through downtown. Seven of those people are in critical condition.
Authorities have identified the man who was arrested as Ohmeed Aziz Popal, who has an address in Ceres.
Popal was arrested at a Walgreens near Bush and Fillmore streets.
In San Francisco, the attacks began around 1 p.m., but it was unclear in what order:
• Two people, one of them a child, were critically injured around by a sport-utility vehicle on the 3500 block of California Street in the Richmond District.
• Three people were hit at California and Fillmore streets. Witnesses said they included a man with a broken hip and a woman with a gashed head.
• Two people were seriously hurt at Bush and Pierce streets and one person was seriously injured at Bush and Buchanan streets, police said. One person suffered minor injuries in an incident at 1850 Fillmore Street.
• Two other people suffered minor injuries when they were hit at Pine at Divisadero streets, and another two were hit and suffered minor injuries at Divisadero and Bush Street.
One victim, Pedro Aglugov, 70, was sitting at a table at a sidewalk cafe at California and Fillmore with his head bandaged with gauze, holding an ice pack to one elbow.
“He was going real fast,” Aglugov said of the driver. “I was lucky I wasn’t hurt more.”
Eliseo Billones Jr., 24, a canvasser for Greenpeace, was standing on the corner when Aglugov was hit.
“He was going berserk,” Billones said of the driver. “It was a red light and he just ran the red light. I saw him (Aglugov) hit the corner of the bumper and tumble.”
Barclay Lynn, 39, of San Francisco, said she and a friend were driving east on Bush when they saw a black SUV driving away and saw a motorcyclist who had been hit.
“The motorcyclist stood in the intersection trying to signal the driver to stop,” Lynn said. The SUV then “went speeding in reverse on Bush heading west, weaving in and out of traffic. The whole right side of his SUV was smashed in.”
At Frankie’s Bohemian Cafe at Divisadero and Pine, a man named William, who asked that his last name not be used, said he was walking south on Divisadero when “we heard the thump, turned around, saw bodies flying.”
He described the vehicle as a black Honda Pilot SUV that looked new and had a windshield that was shattered on the right side.
In the spirit of the ad hominem attacks that are the norm these days — and not meaning to make light of the situation — can I just point out that of course it was an SUV. Can you, for an instant, even imagine a Prius driver doing such a thing? Conversely, a Hummer is just too big and clumsy to do this.
The most surprising thing is that the SUV didn’t roll over while flying down those San Francisco hills at high speed.