Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Afghan-American is being held in San Francisco on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder

Juliana Barbassa:

The driver in a bloody hit-and-run spree that killed one man and injured more than a dozen people was mentally unstable and had been undergoing stress from a recent arranged marriage, according to relatives.

Omeed A. Popal, 29, of Fremont, was taken into custody Tuesday following a 20-minute rampage that terrorized pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists throughout San Francisco. Authorities believe it began more than an hour earlier when his black Honda Pilot fatally struck a man in Fremont.

"He drove on sidewalks, streets, hit people on crosswalks. It runs the gamut," said San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens.

Popal was arrested on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of willful flight after causing serious injury or death, Gittens said.

A woman who identified herself as Popal's cousin said he had been 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?"

Another cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh, said a recent arranged marriage in Afghanistan, where his family is from, may have contributed to Popal's problems.

"The kid grew up here. He wasn't used to the lifestyle in Afghanistan. I'm sure that put a lot of pressure on him," Nekrawesh said.

Relatives: Rampage suspect may have been stressed over wedding

Bay Area Driver Goes on Rampage

THE SUSPECT: Recently began arranged marriage

Claim: San Fran killer called himself 'terrorist'


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