Hit-and-run driver mows down more than a dozen in S.F.

A hit-and-run driver appeared not to care about his victims’ race, age or sex as he purposefully plowed down pedestrians in Fremont and San Francisco in a deadly hit-and-run rampage Tuesday.

As of press time, investigators did not reveal the possible reasons for the spree that left one dead and at least 15 injured. Early on, the San Francisco Police Department discounted terrorism as a reason for the vehicular assaults.

The intentional campaign against pedestrians was brought to an end some time after 1:00 p.m. in the Laurel Heights section of San Francisco, when police boxed in a black Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle and arrested the driver.

Police did not identify a suspect, but said the vehicle is registered to Omeed A. Popal, of Fremont.

An aide to Mayor Gavin Newsom, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the open investigation, said Popal was the suspect in custody. Court and property records list Popal’s age as 29.

A woman who identified herself as his cousin said he was 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?”

At about 12:05 p.m. Tuesday, the driver began a rampage of killing and injuring pedestrians in Fremont when a pedestrian walking north in the bike lane on Fremont Boulevard, near Ferry Lane, was mowed down. The victim, a 54-year-old Fremont man, died at the scene.

The suspect then headed for San Francisco, where for about 15 minutes he caused mayhem on The City’s streets, injuring people at 12 locations as he drove into pedestrians on the sidewalk, in crosswalks and in the street.

San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said three victims sustained life-threatening injuries in the melee. The youngest victim is thought to be a teenager, whom Gittens initially reported to be a 17-year-old boy. The victims were taken to four city hospitals.

“He looked as though he had just had a sandwich and walked out at lunchtime,” said neighbor Wendy Hagenbuch, who said she saw the suspect in police custody moments after the rampage ended. “If he

didn’t have handcuffs on, you would never have thought he had done that.” Hagenbuch said the suspect is a young-looking man, who might be in his 40s. He was wearing jeans, a blue shirt and had a mustache, she said.

Scenes of mayhem

Sutter and Webster

Polk and Sacramento

Bush and Divisadero

Sutter and Steiner

California and Laurel

California and Fillmore

Divisadero and Pine

Bush and Pierce

1850 Fillmore St.

California and Spruce

3220 California St.

Source: SFPD

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