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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another SUV Jihadi?: Driver Runs Down People In San Francisco

This afternoon, starting at around 1 p.m. California time, an SUV driver went on a rampage. The San Francisco Chronicle has the initial report. (I note that this is a preliminary report; more news is trickling in from Hugh Hewitt's radio show.)

As many as 14 people were injured this afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco running them down before he was arrested, authorities said.

Seven of those injured were in critical condition, police and firefighters said.
Authorities have identified the man who was arrested as Omeed Aziz Popal, who has addresses in Ceres (Stanislaus County) and Fremont.

Authorities said they believe Popal was the same driver who ran over and killed a 55-year-old man walking in a bicycle lane in Fremont, at Fremont Boulevard near Ferry Lane, just after noon. That crash scene is just blocks from Popal's Fremont address, where he had most recently been living.

Popal was arrested at a Walgreens at Spruce and California streets.

In San Francisco, the attacks began around 1 p.m., but it was unclear in what order:

• Two people, one of them a child, were critically injured around by a sport-utility vehicle on the 3500 block of California Street in Laurel Heights.

• Three people were hit at California and Fillmore streets. Witnesses said they included a man with a broken hip and a woman with a gashed head.

• Two people were seriously hurt at Bush and Pierce streets and one person was seriously injured at Bush and Buchanan streets, police said. One person suffered minor injuries in an incident at 1850 Fillmore Street.

• Two other people suffered minor injuries when they were hit at Pine and Divisadero streets, and another two were hit and suffered minor injuries at Divisadero and Bush Street.

"It was like 'Death Race 2000,' " firefighter Danny Bright said at California and Fillmore streets, as an ambulance stood nearby. "Guys were walking down the sidewalk and the guy just came up and ran them over. The guy went crazy.''

Fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said Mayor Gavin Newsom had been notified and was coordinating the response with the command post at Spruce and California streets.

This afternoon, Newsom left City Hall saying he was en route to a hospital -- presumably San Francisco General, where seven people had been admitted.

"Eleven people were hurt in the field, and police are still finding others," said Lann Wilder, a spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital. Seven people ages 18-84 were being treated at San Francisco General, she said.

Wilder did not comment on the patients' conditions, but said she would provide further details later this afternoon.

Three people were taken to St. Francis Hospital, one to Kaiser and two others California Pacific Medical Center, Wilder said.

One victim, Pedro Aglugov, 70, was sitting at a table at a sidewalk cafe at California and Fillmore with his head bandaged with gauze, holding an ice pack to one elbow.

"He was going real fast," Aglugov said of the driver. "I was lucky I wasn't hurt more.''

Eliseo Billones Jr., 24, a canvasser for Greenpeace, was standing on the corner when Aglugov was hit.

"He was going berserk," Billones said of the driver. "It was a red light and he just ran the red light. I saw him (Aglugov) hit the corner of the bumper and tumble.''

Barclay Lynn, 39, of San Francisco, said she and a friend were driving east on Bush when they saw a black SUV driving away and saw a motorcyclist who had been hit.

"The motorcyclist stood in the intersection trying to signal the driver to stop,'' Lynn said. The SUV then "went speeding in reverse on Bush heading west, weaving in and out of traffic. The whole right side of his SUV was smashed in.''

At Frankie's Bohemian Cafe at Divisadero and Pine, a man named William, who asked that his last name not be used, said he was walking south on Divisadero when "we heard the thump, turned around, saw bodies flying.''

He described the vehicle as a black Honda Pilot SUV that looked new and had a windshield that was shattered on the right side.

The driver went down Pine and Bush, "stood on the gas,'' then a couple of minutes later "came flying up through the bus lane'' headed north on Divisadero.

Another man at the cafe, Max Bran, said, "We thought he was going to stop and give up, but instead he just stepped on the gas. It didn't matter, regardless of the lights.''

He saw a woman knocked down. "She was just crossing the street, just crossing the street," he said. "In fact, I had just crossed the street.''

The two men said someone who had been at the cafe earlier picked up a license plate from the SUV.

Authorities believe the same suspect struck and killed a pedestrian in Fremont earlier today.

That victim was walking north on Fremont Boulevard in the bicycle lane when he was struck from behind and knocked several feet into a field, Fremont Officer Alan Zambonin said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. The black SUV, a Honda described as a Pilot or a CRV, made no attempt to stop or help the victim, police said.

The vehicle had right front end damage and a shattered windshield.

Zambonin said one witness saw the collision from about 1,000 feet away, then stopped to try to help the man, who was already dead.

Zambonin estimated the SUV was going as fast as 50 mph and sped away with a blown out windshield.

"It's a good possibility (the incidents) are all connected,'' Zambonin said.

One of the updates brought into Hugh's show was that a couple of people outside the Jewish Cultural Center were run down. This marks the second attack on Jews in the United States since the year began, and the second inside of a month.

Gavine Newsome is quoted as stating that this was not a hate crime despite the fact that the driver was doubling back to run people over again. I am not saying he is a jihadi, or that most of the people involved were Jews. but the first response from Gavin Newsome is disgraceful. A "no comment" would have been better than "this is not a hate crime."

And the AP now has the story. Aside from them, the Chronicle, and Drudge no one else is talking about it, or covering it.

We will keep an eye on this and update as information is released out of the Bay City.


UPDATE: 6:35 p.m. Arizona Time--

Hugh Hewitt has the following updates on his site:

UPDATE: A caller to the program who stated he had lived in the neighborhood where the attacks occured asserted that this is a heavily Jewish neighborhood. I have not found that confirmed in the media accounts yet.

UPDATE: Four callers have confirmed that without doubt this is a Jewish neighborhood, and that one of the victimns was run over in front of the Jewish Community Center in the area.

UPDATE: From an e-mail:

Look on the web! the JCC located at 3200 California St. Site of one of the attacks: 3250 California ST.

Please keep an eye out for the first MSM mention you see that this may very well be another mass casualty attack on Jewish Americans,
the second in two months.

Here's the video of Mayor Newsom's press conference. In it he calls the attacks "road rage," and states that "there seems to be no pattern" to the victims in terms of ethnicity or age, and he says "We made no assertions that this was a hate crime, though that is being investigated." The attacker is "relatively young," Newsom stated, and that "it doesn't look in any way shape or form" like an attack related to "international relations."

No offense to Mayor Newsome, but he is a moron. With this in hand it is hard to not react the way we have. If this was indeed a jihadi moment, and this was targeted, then by their own definition this is a hate crime. Worse, it is an act of domestic terrorism that must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


UPDATE: 10:09 p.m. Arizona Time--

Last update for the night, AND this will stay at the top throughout the day tomorrow. (Thomas has to work in the morning, and I have school until 3:00 p.m., give or take a few minutes.) So we wanted the last updates available for our readers:

First, the San Francisco Chronicle:

A day of hit-and-run horror that started with the death of a Fremont pedestrian and erupted into half an hour of chaos on the streets of San Francisco ended in the arrest of a 29-year-old driver described by some relatives as mentally disturbed but by police as apparently rational and unrepentant.

At least 14 people were hospitalized Tuesday in San Francisco after the driver of a black 2004 Honda Pilot cut a path of destruction from the Tenderloin to Laurel Heights, striking pedestrians and a bicyclist in 13 locations starting at about 12:45 p.m.

Most of the injured were run down along a corridor of roughly 15 blocks starting on the west end of Pacific Heights. Witnesses said the driver sped up one street and down another, sometimes the wrong way, picking off people in crosswalks and on sidewalks. At least one victim was in critical condition Tuesday night; several others were treated and released. ...

.... Police identified the sport utility vehicle driver as Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, who had just gotten married in his native Afghanistan, was living with his parents in Fremont, and had nothing on his criminal record except a handful of minor traffic violations. He was in custody Tuesday evening but had not yet been booked.
Some family members said Popal had mental problems and lived in fear of the devil; others said his recent, arranged marriage may have made him stressed.

A source close to the investigation in San Francisco, however, said Popal showed no signs of mental illness or remorse in his initial interviews with authorities. Popal reportedly told police that he had run down pedestrians "because he just wanted to."

Witnesses in San Francisco described the same unreal, terrifying scene again and again: A black SUV whose driver would chase walkers and bicyclists up the street and across lawns and slammed on the accelerator to pick off his victims.

"In some cases he drove on the sidewalk, and in some cases he drove on the street," said police Sgt. Neville Gittens, a department spokesman. "The hits were intentional with no regard in terms of who was hit."

Police finally cornered the car about 1:15 p.m. in Laurel Heights, where they stopped the driver outside a Walgreens on Spruce Street near California Street by slamming into the SUV with their squad cars. One officer suffered minor injuries in the crash.

The office manager at a dental office at 500 Spruce St., who identified herself only as Kira, saw the arrest from a second-floor window as police dragged the driver from his battered car, its windshield caved in and its hood crumpled.

"He was absolutely indifferent, no fear, no expression," she said. "He was like a zombie." ...

... The SUV hit two people in front of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on California Street, just blocks from where the rampage ended.

Blood covered the sidewalk in front of the center's gift store entrance, and 50 feet farther down the sidewalk lay a mangled bicycle. Security cameras in front of the center captured images of the incident, which happened at 1:12 p.m., said to Aaron Rosenthal, spokesman for the community center.

"As far as we can tell, they were simply pedestrians on the street at the time," he said.

Three women and four men ranging in age from 18 to 84 were treated at San Francisco General, said Peter Ragone, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom. Others were taken to St. Francis Hospital, Kaiser Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center.

As of Tuesday night, San Francisco and Fremont police were saying little publicly about Popal or any possible motive for an SUV rampage. Police were awaiting a search warrant so they could enter Popal's home at Cabrillo Drive in a middle-class section of Fremont.

Popal's house is a beige stucco, single-family home. In a corner of the front yard is a large tree and the home is landscaped with fake flowers. Yellow police tape stretched across the front yard Tuesday as uniformed police officers gathered outside the house.

A cousin of the suspect, Zarghona Ramish, said Popal was a good guy but had mental problems.

Popal "thought the devil was coming to get him," Ramish said.

Another relative said Popal was studying to be a mechanic and had most recently worked at a Newark tire shop. He was married about a month ago in his native Afghanistan and his wife still lives there, relatives said.

Popal's lawyer, interviewed at the Richmond District police station where Popal was being held, said, "My client suffers from mental illness -- he has been in and out of the hospital."

The attorney, Majeed Samara, said Popal's condition had deteriorated about six months ago and that he suffered from paranoia.

Samara said police had not allowed him to see Popal because Popal had not invoked his right to an attorney.

Just random pedestrians, huh? I seem to have a very hard time believing that. I will wager that he was aiming for the Jewish Cultural Center. And even if he was not, this should still be treated as a domestic terror case. It is no different from the UNC Jihadi, except that everyone seems to be making excuses for him regarding his puported mental illness. I also notice that he just got back from Afghanistan. I would be curious to see if he has been back there repeatedly over the last few months. And if some things are found in his home, such as on his computer bookmarked sites where cyber-jihadis converse, then what are we to draw from that?

There is already spin being thrown up in this case. I am not saying that the story right now is not true. However, there are some questions that do need answering. The press is not going to push for answers, so this is going to fall to bloggers to get the story out. The press is already rushing to remove the idea of a terrorist attack from the radar. Yet, if evidence is uncovered to show just that (and I am not saying that such evidence will come to light), and he did do this as a part of some "mission," or felt that he had to, will the press cover that up, as well.

I know I might sound critical, but it was bloggers who covered the LAX incident a year, or so, ago. We broke the UNC jihadi story. And we were all over the recent shooting at the Jewish Cultural Center in Seattle. The dinosaur media opted to overlook these stories; most likely in an effort to let them die. To them, this was not news; at least not the sort that they would care about. Notice how quickly they picked up on Gavin Newsome's soundbite, yet there was a veritable black-out on the news when this first came to light? Had the man been shouting something like "Death to Jews" or "Death to Zionists" I am sure the media would be covering that up, as well. (Meanwhile in Iran, they would be looking at a possible replacement for Ahmadinejad. Just kidding; I know, bad humor.)

Regardless, It is time for us to swing into action, and start getting some answers regarding this man's motives. Were they to go after Jews, or was this random. If it was random, was it planned; in other words, was this a terrorist incident. Or are we simply dealing with a nut? The questions are many, and the answers are not exactly forthcoming right now.

However, we are not the only ones picking this up. A number of other bloggers have been on top of this already. Michelle Malkin has the rounds including a tidbit that I had forgotten when the caller called up Hugh's Show. It seems that Mr. Popal has had a previous run-in with the law. Last year he had a traffic violation. The case is listed as closed, but no further details are available about the case. And a number of people have also taken notice of the fact that one of the attacks occurred at the Jewish Cultural Center. So again, we are not the only ones speculating here.



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