Suspect in mass hit-and-run at Venice Beach held
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — A man who spent time in jail for shoplifting in Colorado was in custody Monday for investigation of running down a dozen people along the Venice Beach boardwalk, including an Italian tourist who was living her dream of honeymooning in California.
Little information was released about 38-year-old Nathan Louis Campbell, who was arrested for investigation of murder after he walked into a police station several hours after the rampage and said he was involved. He remained in custody on $1 million bail.
Court records showed Campbell was sentenced to five days in jail after pleading guilty to shoplifting at a Denver Pavilions in February 2009. Five months later, he was accused of trespassing at an outdoor mall in Denver and sentenced to 10 days in jail, the records show.
Campbell lived in Colorado at least as recently as last year. He was evicted from his apartment in Denver for not paying $655 in rent in March 2012, records show.
California authorities said no one with his name and birth date had a state driver’s license.
Killed in Saturday’s rampage was Alice Gruppioni, 32, whose family described as a businesswoman who never ceased to be a romantic girl dreaming about her bridal gown and meeting Prince Charming.
“She was robbed of her life while living her dream visit to California with her husband and this was a tremendous injustice,” the family said in a statement.
The hit-and-run hurt 11 other people who moments earlier had been enjoying an afternoon of strolling and shopping along one of the top tourist attractions in Los Angeles.
Police have not yet presented their case to prosecutors, and they declined to discuss a possible motive. However, Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said there was no indication the attack was a terrorist act or that anyone else was involved.
Police said the driver of the car initially parked outside a hotel and surveyed the boardwalk, where hundreds of people were sitting at cafes, walking along the seashore or shopping for jewelry, art or other items at vending stands.
Surveillance video showed the driver getting into a Dodge sedan, steering around a vehicle barrier and careening through the crowd.
Two mannequins and an ATM were knocked down as the car started hitting people. It swerved from side to side, often running straight into victims. The car struck at least three vendors — a fortune teller, a couple selling jewelry and a woman tattoo artist.
Witnesses said the car was traveling at least 35 mph along the crowded boardwalk.
The driver eventually turned up a side street and headed away from the ocean. The car was abandoned less than two miles away.
People were “stumbling around, blood dripping down their legs, looking confused not knowing what had happened, people screaming,” said Louisa Hodge, who described “blocks and blocks of people just strewn across the sidewalk.”
Gruppioni’s aunt demanded justice after the rampage.
“The only thing I want, that he is absolutely not set free. I don’t want this person to be around,” Katia Gruppioni told The Associated Press.
Alice Gruppioni was a general manager for the family business that makes radiators. Her father, Valerio Gruppioni, runs the company and was formerly president of the Bologna soccer team, according to Italian news agency LaPresse.
Another person was critically injured. Two others were taken to hospitals in serious condition. Eight suffered less serious injuries, police said.