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California man charged with attempted murder for allegedly hitting 3 children with car

A man accused of hitting three children with his car has been charged with premeditated attempted murder, along with a host of other charges. The suspect, 26-year old Jason Carlos Guzman, remains hospitalized with a self-inflicted stab wound, according to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

Guzman on Monday allegedly hit three children with his car as they were walking to Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana, California. The children were hospitalized, but were not seriously injured, according to CBS Los Angeles

"The actions of a single individual have resulted in undue trauma to the victims he hit as well as countless children, parents and school staff," Spitzer said in a statement. "These children were innocently walking to school on the sidewalk with their grandparents and but for the grace of God, this incident did not result in a child being more seriously injured or killed. Children are the most vulnerable victims, and I will do everything in my power to protect our children whether they are at school, at church, and at home."

Guzman faces 21 felony charges: seven counts of premeditated attempted murder, seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of hit-and-run with injury, three counts of child abuse and one count of possession of a flammable liquid, the district attorney's office said.

According to prosecutors, Guzman, who was convicted in 2017 of assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury, went to Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana around 8 a.m. Monday, where he told a staff member that he was going to use the bathroom. The staffer told him to leave, and he did, prosecutors said. 

Guzman left in a red Mazda Protégé, which he crashed into a barrier in the school's parking lot, the district attorney's office said. Prosecutors allege he then drove onto a nearby sidewalk and crashed into the three children, ages 11, 9 and 6. Guzman is also accused of crashing into another vehicle while fleeing the scene.

Spitzer said that a witness followed Guzman and attempted to confront him, but he brandished a knife at her. She returned to her vehicle and was unharmed, the district attorney said.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they found Guzman with an apparent self-inflicted stab wound to his abdomen, prosecutors said. While inspecting Guzman's vehicle, the Orange County bomb squad found "several containers of flammable liquid" which police had initially described as "incendiary devices."

In addition to the felony charges, Guzman also faces one misdemeanor count of brandishing a deadly weapon and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage.

If convicted of all charges, he could face up to 49 years to life in prison.

Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez said the districts is "continuing this week to have crisis counselors at Taft Elementary to support the social and emotional needs of our students and staff following this traumatic event."  

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