WHITTIER, Calif. (NewsNation) — A suspect was placed in custody Thursday after an SUV veered into the wrong lane and plowed through dozens of Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy recruits running during a training exercise early Wednesday, injuring 25 of the cadets.
Nicholas Gutierrez, 22, is being held on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
He is being held on $2 million bail, the department said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said five of the recruits were critically wounded with injuries ranging from head trauma to loss of limbs, four were moderately injured, and 16 others were minorly injured.
“There were so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injury that it was pretty traumatic for all individuals involved,” Villanueva said.
About 75 recruits, from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and several local police agencies, were running in formation in the street just before 6:30 a.m. in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier when the driver veered into the wrong lane and struck the runners before crashing into a nearby light pole, authorities said.
Gutierrez suffered only minor injuries and a field sobriety test on him was negative.
Assistant Chief Charlie Sampson of the California Highway Patrol, which is leading the crash investigation, said officials were looking at all possibilities, ranging from an intentional act to impaired driving.
The Los Angeles Times, citing sources, reports Gutierrez had marijuana in the SUV at the time of the crash.
The class of recruits was in their eighth week and had 14 more weeks to go.
“I am personally heart sick,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said, adding that she was focusing on the cadets who were injured to pull through this.
NewsNation’s Devan Markham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.