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Suspect intentionally drives into people on Venice Beach Boardwalk

Hit-and-run driver plows into Venice Beach Boardwalk	

Venice Beach, California A hit-and-run driver plowed into the crowd
Hit-and-run driver plows into Venice Beach Boardwalk Venice Beach, California A hit-and-run driver plowed into the crowd on the Venice Beach Boardwalk intentionally Saturday, August 3, 2013, hitting 12 people […] Credit: Maarten Smitskamp

VENICE, Calif. — A 38-year-old man suspected of intentionally driving his car into clusters of people on the Venice Boardwalk, killing a honeymooning Italian woman and injuring 11 others, was behind bars today in lieu of $1 million bail.

Nathan Louis Campbell turned himself in at a Santa Monica police station about two hours after the vehicular rampage, which began around 6 p.m. Saturday. He was booked into the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Detention Center on suspicion of murder at 2:43 a.m. Sunday, according to jail records and police.

Prosecutors were still working with investigators to determine what charges might be brought against Campbell, according to Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger, who heads the Major Crimes Division.

“We will not be filing today,” Hearnsberger said. He declined to comment on the nature or number of possible counts.

Campbell will likely be brought to the Airport Courthouse for arraignment once charges have been filed, Hearnsberger said.

The suspect is a Colorado native believed to have been living in his car, the Los Angeles Times reported. An unconfirmed online report indicated Campbell may have lived recently at a halfway house in Hollywood.

Campbell is suspected of purposely aiming a dark blue Dodge Avenger at groups of people as he sped south down the Venice Boardwalk from Dudley Avenue to near Sunset Avenue, causing chaos and panic at one of L.A.’s biggest tourist magnets.

Killed in the melee was 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni, who was visiting Venice on her honeymoon, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said. Her husband of two weeks, Christian Casadei, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The Italian newspaper La Republicca reported that Gruppioni ran a family business in her hometown, Rastignano, near Bologna. She was the daughter of prominent businessman Valerio Gruppioni, former president of the Bologna soccer team, La Republicca reported.

The woman’s family apparently arrived in the Southland Sunday. Katia Gruppioni, an aunt of the victim, told NBC4 in a text message that Gruppioni “was robbed of her life while living her dream visit to California with her husband. This was a tremendous injustice. Alice was a remarkable young lady making her personal dreams come true.”

A vigil was expected to be held at 6 p.m. on the boardwalk.

Of the 11 victims who survived the rampage, one remained in critical condition today and two were in serious condition. Of the eight who sustained less-serious injuries, at least five have been treated and released, officials said.

Witnesses said the driver of the car seemed to purposely aim at pedestrians as he swerved along the popular Ocean Front Walk.

A man who identified himself as “Justin” said he was selling art from his booth when he heard a “scraping” sound to his left and saw a car “careening a bit out of control. It took out a whole booth of sunglasses,” he said. “Like smash, like you see in a movie — like a fruit stand smash.”

“I’m kind of playing chicken with him, fight or flight,” Justin said.

“I ran, but not before I saw him hit three other people and, you know, take off down the block at like 40, running people over and leaving a wake of destruction.”

The driver abandoned the car at Ocean Park Boulevard and Beverly Avenue in Santa Monica, about two miles away. Around 8 p.m. Saturday, Campbell turned himself in at a Santa Monica police station, where he was questioned by Los Angeles police detectives and later arrested.

An LAPD bomb-sniffing dog was called to check the abandoned car for explosive devices in what LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman termed “an abundance of caution.”