Witnesses describe a motorist running amok in The City’s streets

Ten-foot long blood stains. Pedestrians jumping into traffic to save themselves. A mother shielding her child in protection. Good Samaritans rushing to the aid of victims. A mutilated bicycle abandoned on the sidewalk.

These were the scenes on The City’s streets following an unprovoked plowing of pedestrians that police say was caused by a single driver, Omeed Aziz Popal.

Augusta Delzotto, a 40-year-old Russian Hill resident, said that around 12:45 p.m. that she “heard this thundering sound” come from the intersection of Sutter and Fillmore streets, then saw a “black SUV coming down the sidewalk, barreling very close to the stores.”

She was on her way to pick up her son from school and screamed as at least 10 people and a dog jumped out of the way. It all happened “so fast,” she said.

She watched as a teenage boy “jumped into a store screaming” as Popal allegedly tried to strike him. His screams joined those of others who either watched or scrambled to get out of harm’s way. “There was tremendous screaming,” Delzotto said.

She witnessed an elderly woman walk out of a store near Sutter and Fillmore streets and get slammed by the SUV. “You just heard this thud. She got thrown against the wall of one of the stores,” Delzotto said.

She said the SUV was moving faster than the cars on the road and estimated it reached speeds in excess of 50 mph as it headed toward the Bush and Fillmore intersection.

“There was just chaos,” she said. “People were jumping into traffic to save themselves.”

A block away, at 1850 Fillmore St., a city worker at 5 p.m. was cleaning the blood-streaked street with lemon solution to “make the street smell good and clean the blood up.” He was waiting for directions on which crime scene to go to next.

The bloodstains were from an elderly woman, according to Marc Tarasco, who was working behind the counter at the Neja Cosmetics store, where the woman was hit.

He was in the beauty shop when he saw a black Honda SUV race up the curb in front of the store. The freelance makeup artist said he ran outside at about 12:45 p.m. and saw the woman bleeding on the sidewalk and the car continuing on Fillmore Street, making a left on Pine Street.

“It was very scary [and] he was going very fast,” he said.

A chiropractor who works across the street raced to the scene to check the woman’s vital signs, according to Tarasco. A crowd gathered to help her. Tarasco and several other people called 911. He said it took 10 minutes to get through but paramedics rushed the woman to a hospital shortly after.

Daniel Fulford, a bartender at Frankie’s Bohemian Café on Divisadero Street, was tending to customers when he heard tires screeching and saw the SUV careening around a corner.

“I heard his tires,” he said. “Then I heard a couple of thuds. I looked out and saw a couple of people lying in the middle of the street. They were just pedestrians walking.”

As bystanders began gathering around the victims, the SUV came back around, swerving and knocking over newspaper boxes on the sidewalk, Fulford said.

“Everybody started freaking out, getting out of the street,” he said. “That car was like a weapon. He could have come right at us.”

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