The crash that left 25 law enforcement recruits hospitalized was said to be deliberate, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The incident occurred in unincorporated Whittier Wednesday, as the suspect drove on the wrong side of the road, hitting a group of STARS Academy recruits who were on a jog at around 6:30 a.m.
In a TV interview with News Nation Now, Villanueva said investigators looked at surveillance footage, conducting several interviews with recruits and the suspect, and “were able to form the opinion that this was a deliberate act.”
The 22-year-old suspect identified as Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, was arrested Thursday and was charged with attempted murder of a peace officer, according to the Sheriff’s Dept.
California Highway Patrol investigators also believe Gutierrez may have been intoxicated after finding marijuana in his SUV.
Injured recruits were transported to multiple nearby hospitals and five of them were considered to be in critical condition, with one being on a ventilator at St. Francis Medical Center.
The recruiting class was made up of 75 people from different agencies outside of the Sheriff’s Dept., including Bell PD, Glendale PD, Pasadena PD, El Segundo PD and UCLA Police. Of the 25 recruits injured in the crash, 20 of them were revealed to be LASD cadets, Sheriff Villanueva said.
Gutierrez is being held on a $2 million bond, with a Friday court date.
A motive for the incident has still not been revealed.
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