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San Fran Hit-and-Runs: Jihad or No? (Update: Suspect Called Himself a Terrorist?)

A San Francisco motorist drove the streets of the city Tuesday targeting pedestrians, hitting 15, and killing one. 

One person was killed and at least 14 others injured when a rampaging man intentionally targeted pedestrians with his sport utility vehicle in San Francisco and Fremont on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

The driver, Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, of Fremont, was taken into custody on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder and one count of willful flight after causing serious injury or death, according to San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens.

The spree apparently began around noon across the bay, where Fremont Police Sgt. Chris Mazzone said a 55-year old man was struck and killed by a black Honda SUV while walking along the side of the road on Fremont Blvd. near Ferry Lane in Fremont.

Police indicated that the first of a dozen San Francisco collisions occurred at the intersection of Sutter and Webster streets about 12:45 pm.

Popal allegedly hit pedestrians at Sutter and Webster streets, Polk and Sacramento streets, Bush and Divisadero streets, Sutter and Steiner streets, California and Laurel streets, California and Fillmore streets, Divisadero and Pine streets, Bush and Pierce streets, at 1850 Fillmore St., at Fillmore and Bush streets, Spruce and California streets and then 3220 California St. He also rammed a motorist at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street.

"In some cases he drove on the sidewalk, in some cases he drove on the street. He aimed at people in the crosswalk," Gittens said. "This happened pretty quickly. We're talking about a span of about 20 minutes."

San Francisco police finally boxed the SUV in with their cruisers in the city's Laurel Heights district at 1:05 pm.


One is dead, three in critical condition, and five others in serious condition. There was one child hit, who received "massive head injuries."

Michelle notes that Ameed Aziz Popal's rampage ended at the Jewish Community Center. She and her readers are working to determine if he was in a largely Jewish area. Was it jihad and the authorities and police just aren't talking about it? Could be. They have a history of downplaying that aspect unless the perp runs in shouting, oh I don't know, "I'm a Muslim-American. I'm angry at Israel," and it becomes harder to ignore.

Callers to Hugh's show left him satisfied that it is a Jewish area, but the e-mailers at Michelle's seem less certain. Hugh:

It is possible to believe that this killer, like the killer in Seattle, is a lunatic.

But it is simply incredible that the spokesman for the JCC is so quick to dismiss the very idea that anti-Semitic rage drove the attack.

Popal is an Afghan native, and had recently gotten married there. His wife has not yet moved to California.

His family says he's crazy:

A woman who identified herself as Popal's cousin said he had been having recurring nightmares about someone coming to kill him and had been taking medication.

"He thought the devil was coming to him," said Zargona Ramish, who went to the family's home Tuesday afternoon while Popal's relatives were speaking with police. "He is a very good person. He is not like that. What's wrong with him?"


There's also talk of "wedding jitters":

Another cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh, said a recent arranged marriage in Afghanistan, where his family is from, may have contributed to Popal's problems.

"The kid grew up here. He wasn't used to the lifestyle in Afghanistan. I'm sure that put a lot of pressure on him," Nekrawesh said.

The wedding one sounds like a serious stretch. Culture shock leads to homicide? I'd bet on jihad before wedding jitters. But I'm not betting this time. Don't want to ruin my average. 

Update: "One victim told us the suspect referred to himself as a terrorist." Video at LGF.

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