Fremont, in the Bay Area, is home to a sizeable Afghan population. There are some great Afghan restaurants and grocery stores, not to mention the ubiquitious non-Afghan desi eateries and cinema theaters. We lived there in the tense months after 9/11, and while nothing serious happened, I remember one day seeing a host of police cars surrounding an Afghan-owned travel agent. It turned out that a jilted young man had walked into his putative father-in-law's business and shot the gentleman, an upstanding member of the community.
The Afghans can be hot-blooded people, and often, anger translates into senseless actions. It is too soon to tell what the reasons were behind a mad rampage through San Francisco by Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, who had just got married in Afghanistan, but the resulting trail of destruction left 14 people hospitalized, and may be related to the death of a Fremont pedestrian an hour earlier. The driver drove up and down the streets, knocking people off sidewalks and crosswalks, sometimes going the wrong way. He was driving a black 2004 Honda Pilot. Eyewitnesses described it was like watching Death Race 2000, or a video game in action.
The police finally stopped the rampage outside a Walgreens near California Street by slamming into the SUV with their squad cars. An eyewitness termed the driver calm, "like a zombie". Family members said he had mental problems and "lived in fear of the devil". Some felt his recent arranged marriage might have stressed him out. Police said Popal told them he had done it intentionally, "because he just wanted to".Powered by Sidelines