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Driver charged with attempted murder for hitting children

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Posted at 5:34 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 20:34:51-04

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man who drove onto a Southern California sidewalk and hit three children walking to school has been charged with premeditated attempted murder, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Jason Carlos Guzman, 26, of Valencia remained hospitalized with a self-inflicted stab wound to his abdomen, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Guzman's condition wasn't immediately released and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Guzman, who had a 2017 conviction for assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury, went to Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana at around 8 a.m. Monday and told a staff member that he was going to use the bathroom, prosecutors said.

The staffer told him to leave. His Mazda crashed into a barrier in the school parking lot as he drove away, prosecutors said.

A couple of blocks away, the car accelerated, ran onto a sidewalk and hit a group of children walking to Taft, prosecutors said.

An 11-year-old girl, a 9-year-old girl, and a 6–year-old girl were struck and flew into the air, according to the district attorney's statement.

Guzman brandished a knife at a woman who saw the crash, and while driving away his car struck an SUV with a woman and her 11-year-old daughter inside, authorities said. No one was seriously injured.

After Guzman's arrest, investigators said they found containers of flammable liquid in his car.

Authorities haven't released a motive in the case or said whether drugs or alcohol may have been involved.

Guzman is charged with seven counts of premeditated attempted murder, seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of hit-and-run with injury, and three counts of child abuse, prosecutors said.

He also is charged with a felony count of possession of a flammable liquid, a misdemeanor count of brandishing a deadly weapon, and a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run with property damage.

If convicted of all charges, he could face 49 years to life in prison.

“The actions of a single individual have resulted in undue trauma to the victims he hit as well as countless children, parents, and school staff,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement. “These children were innocently walking to school on the sidewalk with their grandparents and but for the grace of God, this incident did not result in a child being seriously injured or killed."