Hundreds attend Sunnyvale unity meeting one month after driver deliberately plowed into 8 people

On Wednesday night, about a month after a man crashed his car into 8 pedestrians in Sunnyvale, the city hosted a unity meeting at the Sunnyvale Senior Center.

About two hundred people attended the event to honor the survivors and talk about moving forward after the traumatic incident.

A small memorial marks the spot along El Camino Real at Sunnyvale Saratoga Road where a driver is suspected of deliberately plowing into a group of people because he thought they were Muslim.

"We are in pain. We are angry and we are experiencing fear," said Rich Gordon, a former assembly member. 

Organizers say the collision is an example of the hate and fear that exists in Sunnyvale despite its diverse population.

"48 percent of our city was not even born in the United States. It's a mixture of people from Europe, Asia from around the world," said Larry Klein, mayor of Sunnyvale.

On April 23 around 6:30 p.m., police say a 34-year-old man plowed his car into pedestrians.

A 13-year-old girl was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.

Police identified the driver as Isaiah Peoples, a veteran back from the war in Afghanistan.

He faces attempted murder charges.  

"This is bringing to surface the deep racism that exists in the United States," said Maha Elgenaidi with Islamic Networks Group.

People of different faiths and cultures came to this unity event to learn about others who are different than themselves.     

"The term unity, it brought something in me. I wanted to look at what's happening," said Ankita Kumar, a part-time teacher who lives in Sunnyvale.

"Growing up as an evangelical Christian has not often been very good at having a benevolent posture towards the rest of the community," said Tim Stonehocker of Sunnyvale who says he's a software engineer.

Organizers say the survivors and their famlies were invited to attend, but that they wished to remain anonymous.

People at the event say the incident affected more than the Muslim community.

The victims were of different cultures and faiths.

"It's Latinos, It's Asians. It's Hindus. It's incredibly important to place what's happening in its proper context," said Elgenaidi.  

The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office says a decision on whether suspect Isaiah Peoples will be charged with a hate crime is expected at a court hearing Thurday at 1:30 p.m. at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.