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

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

The Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street was one of many hotels that took in homeless people as part of The City’s shelter-in-place hotel program during the pandemic.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Closing hotels could disconnect hundreds from critical health care services

‘That baseline of humanity and dignity goes a long way’

Pachama, a Bay Area startup, is using technology to study forests and harness the carbon-consuming power of trees. (Courtesy Agustina Perretta/Pachama)
Golden Gate Park visitors may take a survey about options regarding private car access on John F. Kennedy Drive, which has been the subject of controvers during the pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

Host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park proposed

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said retail thefts in The City are underreported crimes. (Daniel Montes/Bay City News)
S.F. unveils initiative to tackle rise in retail thefts

Incidents are not victimless crimes, mayor says

Most Read