By Dana Feldman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A California man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a driver plowed his car into pedestrians on the popular Venice Beach boardwalk, killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon and injuring 11 other people, police said on Sunday.
Witnesses said it appeared the car’s driver had been aiming for pedestrians on Saturday while driving down the popular oceanside walkway at speeds up to 20 miles per hour while people screamed and scrambled to get out of the way.
“Bodies were flying in the air and people were screaming. It was absolute mayhem,” eyewitness Dave Blackburn told KABC-TV.
Los Angeles police said Nathan Campbell, 38, was taken into custody late on Saturday after turning himself in. The car involved was found in nearby Santa Monica where they say Campbell lives.
Security video footage aired on ABC News showed the driver parking the car – a dark-colored Dodge Avenger – across the boardwalk from a cafe and getting out, apparently to look at the crowd. The driver then got back in the car and drove it into the crowd before backing up and apparently steering toward another group of people, the footage showed.
A police spokeswoman said Campbell was arrested on suspicion of murder after questioning, but could not give further details on what charges he faces, a possible motive, or whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Bail was set at $1 million, police said.
Ten of the 12 people injured were taken to hospitals on Saturday – two in critical condition, one of whom died – and two in serious condition. Injuries included broken bones and head trauma, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Police identified the deceased victim on Sunday as Alice Gruppioni, a 32-year-old Italian woman who had been on her honeymoon.
The Venice Beach boardwalk is a major tourist attraction known for its eclectic patchwork of shops, restaurants and sporting areas.
In 2003, an elderly man drove his car through a crowded farmers’ market in nearby Santa Monica, killing 10 people and injuring 69.
(Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Eric Walsh)
Watch KABC’s report on the incident, aired Sunday, below.