A 22-year old suspect has been arrested after driving the wrong way down a California highway and plowing his vehicle into a group of 75 police recruits who were out running.
The suspect, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, was taken into custody by Los Angeles County authorities on Thursday, but was later released as county officials say they are still working to build evidence in a criminal case against him before bringing charges.
Guittierez is suspected of driving his vehicle in the wrong direction down the highway in Whittier in the early morning hours on Wednesday.
Officials say the group of recruits from Los Angeles and other surrounding areas were out for a run when Gutierrez drove his Honda CR-V into them, injuring 25 of them and suffering minor injuries himself.
At the scene, Gutierrez passed a sobriety test but officials say they have reason to believe he was under the influence of a recreational drug at the time of the incident.
Authorities also say they have enough evidence to prove the act was deliberate.
“[Investigators] went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved, with the video surveillance, the statements from the recruits, the physical evidence they have and what they got from the suspect himself, and they were able to form the opinion this was a deliberate act,” said Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Five of the recruits hurt were listed in critical condition on Thursday with injuries reportedly ranging from lacerations to a possible amputation.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: KLTV.COM
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