SUNNYVALE, Calif.—The FBI is assisting California officials in the investigation of a motorist who appeared to deliberately plow into a group of people, injuring eight, authorities said Wednesday.

Prentice Danner, a spokesman for the FBI’s field office in San Francisco, said the Sunnyvale Police Department is the lead agency in the investigation but that the bureau will become more involved “if it is determined a federal crime was committed.”

Sunnyvale Police Cpt. Jim Choi said the driver of the car was arrested and has been identified but that his name is not being made public to avoid compromising the investigation. He said the driver was not injured.

He said the department notified the FBI after the Tuesday evening crash in the city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of San Francisco because “we are making sure we are looking at all the possible motives and angles.”

Witnesses told investigators the motorist was speeding and drove directly toward the pedestrians without trying to veer away or stop the car before striking them, Choi said.

Some of the witness statements “show that the driver did not try to avoid the pedestrians at the cross walk, and there was no attempt to swerve, drive away or brake,” he said.

“People are just walking to get to these restaurants, food places and grocery stores, rather than getting into their car and driving there,” Sunnyvale resident Shanelle Fioretti told KGO-TV in describing the area.

Some of the eight people injured, including a 13-year-old girl, were at a corner or on the crosswalk when the car hit them before smashing into a tree, Choi said. The crosswalk remained closed Wednesday as officials investigate.

The victims were taken to the hospital after the crash near a shopping center in Sunnyvale, Choi said.

An update on their conditions was expected later Wednesday.

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