SALEM, OR – A driver that ran over a pack of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recruits who were participating in an early-morning run as part of a training exercise early Wednesday morning has been charged with attempted murder on a peace officer, authorities say, with additional potential charges pending.
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was placed under arrest at approximately 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, after driving a dark-colored SUV the wrong way down a one-way street at 6:30 a.m. that morning, striking and injuring – some critically – 25 sheriff’s office recruits. The injured recruits were among a group of 70 who were training that morning accompanied by a pair of escort vehicles, and many were reportedly wearing reflective high-visibility vests.
After ramming into the recruits, Gutierrez then hit a light pole, at which point his vehicle came to a stop.
Injuries to the recruits ranged from broken bones to head trauma and “loss of limb,” with five of the victims currently being listed as being in critical condition.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke on the carnage that Gutierrez wrought to his recruits, saying that it came without any warning.
“It happened so quickly that just the people that just saw it veer into them, they jumped out of the way, but the people behind had no chance because they never saw it,” he said. “They didn’t have that sufficient warning. There were so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injuries.”
Gutierrez allegedly had a blood-alcohol content of zero, and had passed a field sobriety test conducted at the scene. It is currently unknown if the suspect had any drugs in his system at the time of the incident.
Gutierrez is being held in an LASD facility in Norwalk without bail and will appear before a judge on Friday morning; as of press time, the number of criminal charges against him has not yet been revealed.