"He drove on sidewalks, streets, hit people on crosswalks. It runs the gamut," said Sgt. Neville Gittens, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.
The man was arrested when police boxed him in with their cruisers around after he struck people in 12 different locations around the city. He was injured and in stable condition, an aide to the mayor said.
The driver's name was not immediately released, but Department of Motor Vehicles records show the license plate on the SUV registered to Omeed A. Popal. An aide to the mayor who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the open investigation said Popal was the suspect in custody.
The spree began around noon when an unidentified man walking along the side of the road was hit by a black Honda SUV. He was thrown into a field and pronounced dead at the scene, Sgt. Chris Mazzone said.
Witnesses said the driver did not slow down.
He then crossed the bay into San Francisco, where he injured at least 13 people during a 20-minute hit-and-run spree, police said.
One victim was in critical condition, where the mayor met with victims and their families.
"These are the things, these are so senseless. They're utterly inexplicable. They're impossible to rationalize," Mayor Gavin Newsom said. "The fact that this individual felt compelled for whatever reason to be determined to do what he did is beyond imagination."
The mayhem left a scattered trail on sidewalks and streets. White sheets covered a bloodstained patch of concrete. A broken pair of eyeglasses lay in the middle of the road among a collection of evidence markers. And a lone running shoe sat on the asphalt cordoned off by yellow tape.