Man held in LA boardwalk driving attack

2013-08-05 15:02
In this still frame made from security camera footage from Snapchat headquarters, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. (Snapchat/ AP)

In this still frame made from security camera footage from Snapchat headquarters, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. (Snapchat/ AP)

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Los Angeles — A man was in jail on suspicion of murder after a driver ploughed into crowds at a popular Los Angeles boardwalk, a seemingly intentional hit-and-run that killed an Italian woman on her honeymoon and injured 11 others.

Nathan Louis Campbell, aged 38, was arrested after he walked into a police station in neighbouring Santa Monica about two hours after the incident and told police that he was involved.

Campbell was in jail on $1m bail.

Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese declined to discuss a motive but said there was no indication that the attack was a terrorist act or that anyone else was involved.

Security video taken at Venice Beach boardwalk showed a man parking a black car, stepping out and surveying the leisurely scene for several minutes before getting back into the vehicle and speeding into the crowd. Hundreds of people who had been walking or sitting at cafes raced to get out of the way before the vehicle sped out of sight.

The Italian woman was identified as Alice Gruppioni, aged 32. Her family in Bologna told the Italian news agency LaPresse that she had been on her honeymoon after a 20 July wedding.

Gruppioni worked as a manager for the family business Sira group, which makes radiators. Her father, Valerio Gruppioni, runs the company and was formerly president of the Bologna soccer team, according to LaPresse.

Car's speed unknown

The family declined to speak to The Associated Press on Sunday.

Authorities said another person was critically injured. Two others were in serious condition, and eight suffered less serious injuries.

People were "stumbling around, blood dripping down their legs, looking confused not knowing what had happened, people screaming", said Louisa Hodge, who described "blocks and blocks of people just strewn across the sidewalk".

The crash was not far from the scene where an elderly driver sped through an open-air farmer's market in Santa Monica in 2003, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70 others. Investigators said George Weller, who was 86 at the time, mistakenly stepped on the gas instead of the brake and then panicked.

It was not immediately clear how fast the car in Saturday's crash was going.

"I heard a big 'boom, boom', like the sound of someone going up and down the curb, it was super loud," said Alex Hagan, aged 22, who was working the desk at the Cadillac Hotel and watched the scene unfold.

The boardwalk is home to galleries, restaurants, tattoo shops, skateboard parks and the famous outdoor weight room known as Muscle Beach. It can draw as many as 150 000 people on summer weekends.

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