A 26-year-old man was charged Wednesday with attempted murder and a slew of other charges after he allegedly drove his car onto a Santa Ana sidewalk, striking three children.
Incendiary devices were found inside his vehicle, police said.
Jason Carlos Guzman, 26, of Valencia was charged with seven felony counts of premeditated attempted murder, seven felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, three felony counts of hit and run with injury, and three felony counts of child abuse. He has also been charged with one felony count of possession of a flammable liquid, one misdemeanor count of brandishing a deadly weapon, and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage, the Orange County District Attorney’s office said.
It started when police say 26-year-old Jason Guzman came to Taft Elementary Monday morning to use the bathroom and was turned away. School officials described him as suspicious and say he was carrying a backpack.
Teachers and others on campus kept asking him to leave since he got back into his car in the parking lot. They knew he was not a parent or related to anyone working at the school.
He drove away but he didn’t go far.
Surveillance video shows him behind the wheel of a red Mazda Protégé that appears to slam on its brakes. Witnesses say he came up and on the sidewalk, striking a 10-year-old boy and two girls, 11 and 7. The DA said the children flew into the air on impact.
Isaias Vazquez came outside of his home when he heard the collision.
“And as I was walking towards them I saw an individual walking towards the kids and us with a knife in his hand,” he said.
He also was accused of hitting an SUV with a woman and 11-year-old aboard.
Santa Ana police Sgt. Maria Lopez said police we’re trying to figure out why he was at the school.
Vasquez says he installed cameras after cars kept driving by his home hitting cars on his street and taking off. This time he captured something he hoped never to see.
Confusing moments followed when police found three incendiary devices inside Guzman’s car after he was taken into custody. He also had an apparent self-inflicted stab wound on his stomach.
He has been hospitalized since the attack.
The incident prompted Taft to go on lock down, with educators moving students to a field as the Orange County bomb squad searched for any more devices that might have been left on campus. They found none and school resumed about 11 a.m.
Santa Ana Unified sent an email home to parents saying a trespasser entered the school, and he was removed by school staff and taken into custody.
All three children were transported to a hospital are in stable condition. Authorities later said they did not suffer any serious injuries.
“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. Children are the most vulnerable victims, and I will do everything in my power to protect our children whether they are at school, at church, and at home,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
The OC DA said Guzman was also convicted in 2017 for committing felony assault by using force that is likely to commit great bodily injury.
If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 49 years to life, plus six years in state prison, plus one year in Orange County jail.