Isaiah J. Peoples appears for his arraignment in Santa Clara County Superior Court as his lawyer, Chuck Smith, stands at his side on Friday, April 26, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. The former U.S. Army sharpshooter Peoples is charged with eight counts of attempted murder after authorities say he deliberately plowed his car into pedestrians Tuesday. (Jim Gensheimer/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An Iraq War veteran deliberately drove into a group of pedestrians because he thought some of the people were Muslim, California authorities said Friday.

Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, faces eight counts of attempted murder for injuring eight people, including four who remain hospitalized. The most seriously injured is a 13-year-old Sunnyvale girl of South Asian descent who is in a coma with severe brain trauma.

"New evidence shows that the defendant intentionally targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith," Sunnyvale police chief Phan Ngo said.

Peoples appeared briefly in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday. He did not enter a plea and is being held without bail.

The former U.S. Army sharpshooter experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, his family said. Peoples' attorney, Chuck Smith, said Friday that the crash was in no way deliberate.

Smith said after the hearing that they do not dispute what happened, but that his client's mental state is the issue.

"He served our country, honorably and admirably, and he's led an otherwise blameless life," Smith said, "So there's no explanation for this other than his service, the things he saw and what happened to him mentally while serving our country."

Peoples was on his way to a Bible class Tuesday in the Silicon Valley suburb of Sunnyvale when he told investigators he intentionally drove into a group of men, women and children, police said. The 13-year-old girl was hit along with her father and brother, who had minor injuries.

Jay Boyarsky, chief assistant district attorney for Santa Clara, said the charges carry a sentence of life in prison. He said they will file hate crime allegations if warranted.

"There is very appalling and disturbing evidence that at least one or two of these victims were targeted based on the defendant's view of what their race or religion may have been," he said.

Three adults also remain hospitalized with injuries that include broken limbs.

Peoples showed no remorse after his car plowed at high speed into a group of people in a crosswalk before hitting a tree, Ngo said.

Witness Don Draper said he marched over to Peoples' car after he crashed, and he found the driver muttering over and over, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus."

But Ngo said that "he did not behave in any manner that would be considered bizarre," when taken into custody.

Family and friends described Peoples as quiet and polite and expressed shock at his involvement. His mother, Leevell Peoples of Sacramento, said her son had "a bad episode" with PTSD in 2015, for which he was hospitalized.

Peoples was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

Peoples was honorably discharged from the Army, and police were investigating the PTSD report, Ngo said. Peoples had no criminal record and owned one weapon, a disassembled and inoperable shotgun that was in the trunk of his vehicle, according to the police chief.

___

Associated Press writer Juliet Williams in San Francisco contributed to this report.

This photo released Wednesday, April 24, 2019, by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety shows Isaiah Joel Peoples. Police in Northern California have identified the man arrested after he allegedly deliberately plowed into a group of people. The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety says 34-year-old Peoples, of Sunnyvale, Calif., was arrested Tuesday. (Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety via AP)
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019, provided by Don Draper, a victim of a car crash is offered assistance from police in Sunnyvale, Calif. Draper, a witness to the crash that injured several people, said he was waiting for the light to turn green when a Toyota Corolla plowed through the intersection at high speed.  (Don Draper via AP)
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019 provided by Don Draper, an officer works the scene of a car crash that injured several people in Sunnyvale, Calif. A former Army sharpshooter with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder plowed his car at high speed into a group of pedestrians in the Silicon Valley suburb, and then told authorities that he intentionally hit them, police said. (Don Draper via AP)
This photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019, provided by Don Draper, shows the scene of a car crash where several pedestrians were struck in Sunnyvale, Calif. Draper, a witness to the crash said he was waiting for the light to turn green when a vehicle plowed through the intersection at high speed. (Don Draper via AP)
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019, provided by Don Draper, a victim of a car crash is offered assistance in Sunnyvale, Calif. Draper, a witness to the crash that injured several people, said he was waiting for the light to turn green when a vehicle plowed through the intersection at high speed. (Don Draper via AP)
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019, provided by Don Draper, Isaiah Joel Peoples, the driver of a car that struck several pedestrians, lays on the ground after the crash in Sunnyvale, Calif. The former Army sharpshooter with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder plowed his car at high speed into a group of pedestrians in the Silicon Valley suburb and then told authorities that he intentionally hit them, police said.  (Don Draper via AP)
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 23, 2019 provided by Don Draper, a victim of a car crash is treated by paramedics in Sunnyvale, Calif. Draper, a witness to the crash that injured several people, said he was waiting for the light to turn green when a vehicle plowed through the intersection at high speed.  (Don Draper via AP)
Leevell Peoples glances at a photo of her son, Isaiah Peoples, taken while he was in the Army, at her home Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Isaiah Peoples, 34, was taken into custody by Sunnyvale Police after he allegedly deliberately plowed into a group of people injuring them on Tuesday. Leevell Peoples says her son is a
Police carry away items after investigating the apartment complex believed to be associated with a car crash suspect in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Weds., April 24, 2019. A California man who authorities said drove into a crosswalk in a quiet Silicon Valley suburb is an Iraqi war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, his mother told The Associated Press on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Cody Glenn)
Police vehicles surround the apartment complex believed to be associated with a car crash suspect in Sunnyvale, Calif., Wednesday, April 24, 2019. A witness to a California crash that injured eight people said Wednesday he was waiting for a traffic light to turn green when a Toyota Corolla plowed through the intersection at a high speed, sending pedestrians flying into the air in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale. (AP Photo/Cody Glenn)
Police work the apartment complex believed to be associated with a car crash suspect in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Investigators are working to determine the cause of a crash in Northern California that injured eight pedestrians on Tuesday evening. Authorities say the driver of a car was taken into custody after he appeared to deliberately plow into them. (AP Photo/Cody Glenn)
Isaiah J. Peoples appears for his arraignment in Santa Clara County Superior Court as his lawyer, Chuck Smith, stands at his side on Friday, April 26, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. The former U.S. Army sharpshooter Peoples is charged with eight counts of attempted murder after authorities say he deliberately plowed his car into pedestrians Tuesday. (Jim Gensheimer/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)
Isaiah J. Peoples appears for his arraignment in Santa Clara County Superior Court as his attorney, Chuck Smith, stands at his side on Friday, April 26, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. The former U.S. Army sharpshooter Peoples is charged with eight counts of attempted murder after authorities say he deliberately plowed his car into pedestrians Tuesday. (Jim Gensheimer/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)