LOS ANGELES (AP) — A driver plowed into a crowd walking along one of the most popular beach boardwalks in Southern California Saturday evening, killing one person, injuring 11 others and leaving behind a chaotic scene strewn with bleeding victims, officials and witnesses said.
The victim died at a hospital a few hours after the crash at the Venice Beach boardwalk, Los Angeles police Lt. Andy Neiman said.
At about the same time a person was taken into custody for questioning and a car was impounded in neighboring Santa Monica, and detectives were determining if both were the ones they'd been seeking, Neiman said.
Neiman would give no details on the identity of the victim or the person of interest.
The sandy-haired man drove the powerful midsized Dodge Avenger into vendors and tourists as they walked along the paved pedestrian walkway of the storied boardwalk. Police and witnesses said bloodied victims and knocked over mannequins and lawn chairs were left in the wake.
Witnesses told firefighters it appeared the man was in control of his car as he ran people down, but police said they did not know his motives.
"If this was an intentional act that certainly raises the stakes quite a bit," Neiman said.
Ten of the 12 victims were taken to hospitals, city Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. Of the 11 survivors, one was in critical condition and two in serious condition, Humphrey said.
Alex Hagan, 22, who was working the front desk at the Cadillac Hotel, said the man was sitting in his parked car on the street right next to the boardwalk and his hotel when he suddenly started the engine and accelerated, swerving past yellow poles meant to keep cars off the pedestrian walkway.
"I heard a big 'boom, boom,' like the sound of someone going up and down the curb, it was super loud," Hagan told The Associated Press."
The car knocked down two mannequins then ran into vendors selling at their booths, Hagan said.
Many rushed to help the injured while others ran after the car screaming and cursing, Hagan said.
Firefighters surveyed the sprawling crowd looking for injured immediately after the crash, Humphrey said. Hours later police surveyed the same ground for evidence.
The Venice boardwalk is a cultural hub in a part of Los Angeles known for its circus-meets-gritty-city eccentricities.
The 1.5-mile ribbon of asphalt that runs along the sand a few hundred yards from the ocean 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.