A 26-year-old Valencia man was charged Wednesday with driving onto a Santa Ana sidewalk and striking three children walking to school in a hit-and-run collision.
Jason Carlos Guzman was charged with seven counts each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of failing to stop at a hit-and-run accident with injury, three counts of child abuse and endangerment, a count of possession of a destructive device, a count of possession of flammable material, a count of reckless or malicious possession of a destructive device or explosive in a public place, all felonies.
He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of brandishing a weapon and hit and run with property damage. He faces sentencing enhancements for attempted premeditated murder, making it a potential life case.
Guzman, who was convicted in 2017 for felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, faces up to 56 years to life in prison if convicted at trial, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
At about 8 a.m. Monday, Guzman attempted to use a bathroom at Taft Elementary School at 500 Keller Ave., said Fermin Leal of the Santa Ana Unified School District. When asked if he was a parent, he said no, and when a staffer denied him entry he barged his way through the gate, Leal said. Other staffers, including the principal, surrounded him and instructed him to leave the campus, Leal said.
He was told again to leave after he got into his car in the school parking lot. He then got into the collision three or four blocks from the campus, Leal said.
Guzman collided with a parking barrier in the school’s parking lot as he attempted to drive away in a Mazda ProtÃ©gÃ©, prosecutors said. When he careened onto the sidewalk he struck three girls, ages 11, 9 and 6, but they escaped serious injury, according to prosecutors.
Guzman also allegedly crashed into an SUV carrying a woman and her 11-year-old daughter.
Another mother who trailed after Guzman from Taft saw the children get hit on the sidewalk and when she confronted the defendant he allegedly waved a knife at her, prosecutor said.
Guzman sustained a self-inflicted stab wound to his gut and was taken to an area hospital, prosecutors said. Orange County sheriff’s bomb squad personnel say they scoured the car and found several containers of flammable liquid in it.