SAN JOSE — In a story that is racking up national headlines, police say a drug-addled man who lived in Seaside as a youth crashed his car into an East San Jose Walmart and bludgeoned customers and an employee with a blunt object before he was tackled by onlookers Sunday morning.
Haamid Ade Zaid, 33, was booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, being under the influence of drugs and resisting arrest, according to the San Jose Police Department. He was identified as a Seaside resident by police, but a relative said he now lives in San Jose.
Zaid is being held without bail in connection with the chaotic attack that rattled an Easter Sunday shopping crowd and ended with four people injured, one seriously. A Walmart employee was among the victims.
Officer Albert Morales said San Jose Police had no previous contact with Zaid until Sunday. Santa Clara County has a handful of court cases involving Zaid, but the records were not available Monday because the Superior Court observed the Cesar Chavez holiday. A records search in Monterey County did not reveal any history of violence.
Zaid's mother, Rosemary, told NBC Bay Area that she had no explanation for the actions of her son, a Seaside High School graduate she said runs an auto-restoration shop in San Jose.
"This isn't him, this isn't him, this is not what he's like," Rosemary Zaid told the station. "He's a good man, a business man. He's never done drugs."
The melee began about 11:15a.m. Sunday when a red two-door Cutlass Salon was seen speeding through the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter on Story Road, hitting two cars before crashing through the pharmacy and market entrance, police said. A witness said the driver's initial attempt was too sharp and got the car caught in cement pylons, so he backed up and tried again, making it into the store before crashing into a beer display.
Once the car stopped, police and witnesses say, the driver got out, picked up a blunt object some described as a metal bar and started attacking people with it. A stockroom employee was hit in the head, according to his daughter, 31-year-old Betsy Rodriguez of San Jose.
Rodriguez said the 61-year-old lifelong San Jose resident had just clocked out for lunch when the Cutlass came barreling through the store. He approached the driver, according to Rodriguez, whose account was corroborated by police.
"He heard people screaming and approached the man. He told the guy 'You don't have to do this,' and the man hit him on the head," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said her father, a five-year employee who asked not to be named out of privacy concerns, is conscious and recovering at a local hospital.
Raymond Raborar was at the store, waiting for his mother to finish Easter Mass at a nearby church and standing near the pharmacy when he heard the crash.
"I was just there to kill time when I heard something really loud," said Raborar, a San Jose-based in-home caregiver. "I see people running and then thought maybe I should run too."
Raborar briefly left the store but returned and started shooting video, which shows the car inside the store, a victim lying on the floor and customers restraining Zaid.
"My heart was beating really fast," he said. "I'm thinking maybe the driver's on drugs, or it could be a terrorist attack."
The melee stopped when onlookers tackled the driver and held him down until police arrived. Zaid was reportedly kicking and screaming as officers took him into custody. Morales said the suspect was "exhibiting objective symptoms of being the under the influence" of drugs.
Rodriguez praised the heroism of the bystanders who jumped into action.
"I want to thank everyone who helped get this attacker," she said.
The bizarre nature of the attack has drawn attention from national media, including "Good Morning America," CNN and news shows in Los Angeles and New York City. It even inspired a fake poll question on the popular online satire website The Onion.
Morales said he couldn't recall anything similar happening in the city.
"In my 18-year career, I have never seen anything like this," Morales said. "After looking at some of the pictures, it's amazing he didn't hit anybody with the vehicle."
Rodriguez's father was hospitalized, and three other victims were treated and released by paramedics at the scene. Zaid was also treated at a hospital before he was jailed.
Following the attack, the store was evacuated, closed and cordoned off by police. More than 70 people gave witness statements to police.