Omeed Aziz Popal Kills One, Injures 14 in Vehicle Rampage
Yet another incident where a Muslim man goes on a rampage and starts running people over with his SUV.
As many as 14 people were injured [Tuesday] afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco deliberately running them down before being arrested by police, who believe the same driver struck and killed a man earlier today in Fremont. At least one hit-and-run victim remained in critical condition this evening.
Reports of the incidents began pouring in at 12:47 p.m., police said. Within a half-hour, San Francisco police had cornered and arrested 29-year-old Omeed Aziz Popal, who has addresses in Ceres (Stanislaus County) and Fremont.
Authorities suspect Popal was the same driver who ran over and killed a 54-year-old man in Fremont around noon.
The San Jose Mercury News has a particularly bizarre piece under the headline “Relatives: Rampage suspect may have been stressed over wedding.”
Relatives of a Fremont man connected to Tuesday’s deadly driving rampage said he may have been distraught after returning recently from Afghanistan without his newlywed wife who is waiting for a visa.
Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, who sources said was being held by the San Francisco police, was normally a kind and gentle person, said Hamid Nekrawesh, 43, a first cousin in Fremont. But a recent trip to Afghanistan to participate in an arranged marriage could have caused him a lot of stress, Nekrawesh said. “He was a very respectful, quiet, nice guy,” Nekrawesh said. “I’ve never seen him do anything violent.”
Zarghona Ramish of San Jose, who also identified herself as Popal’s cousin, said he had been having strange dreams since returning a month ago from Afghanistan.
Popal lives with his parents, younger brother and two younger sisters in a working-class neighborhood of one-story tract homes in west Fremont, Nekrawesh said. He worked at a Fremont tire store on Mowry Avenue, neighbors and relatives said, and he and his father also sold household items at Bay Area flea markets. He was born in Afghanistan, but came to the United States at a young age. Three months ago, he returned to his home country to marry, relatives said, and his wife’s family was very traditional and strict. “He grew up as a Western boy in the United States and went to Afghanistan to get married culturally over there,” Nekrawesh said. Nekrawesh wondered if the stress of the trip and the culture shock had an impact on Popal, especially given that Afghan weddings are very large, and Popal comes from a large extended family.
Much speculation, reasonably enough, about whether this is just some nut unable to handle the pressures of life, some act of Muslim terrorism, anti-Semitic homicide (the neighborhood apparently has or had a large Jewish population) or perhaps a combination. My leaning in cases not involving bombs or multiple killers tends to be “nut” until proven otherwise.