Man drives pickup truck through Columbus Day protest, hits 5 (VIDEO)

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A man rammed his pickup truck through a group of activists protesting Columbus Day in Reno, Nevada. The driver hit five people, sending an elderly woman to the hospital.

The incident was captured on video and shows a rally held by 40 people protesting the observance of Columbus Day – also in solidarity with the fight against the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

When the group gathered under the Reno Arch crosswalk to pose for a photo, two men in a white pickup truck drove up to the protesters and revved the engine. The two men were asked to back up by the crowd as they gathered around the truck, and a heated exchange ensued. The driver paused for several minutes before finally plowing through the crowd as people were heard screaming. The truck hit five people, sending one elderly woman to the hospital.

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said at a press conference Tuesday that five people ‒ the driver, his passenger and three people from the scene ‒ were evaluated by medics.

The names of the driver and passenger were not released, but the driver was identified as an 18-year-old and the passenger as a 17-year-old.
Soto declined to say whether charges had been filed against the driver or passenger.

Soto said the protesters had not obtained a permit from the City of Reno.
The driver of the vehicle stopped several blocks away and called 911 to provide his account of events, police said. The driver and passenger of the pickup truck were interviewed and are cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

“This is a hate crime,” Quanah Brightman, executive director of United Native Americans told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s still brutal to see this kind of racism in America. That man deserves life [in prison] for what he did.”

Brightman said the elderly woman went under the truck as she was run over. She was treated at the Renown Regional Medical Center and her injuries were listed as serious on Tuesday afternoon. Four people were treated on the scene for minor injuries.

Taylor Paniagua told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he jumped in front of the pickup in an effort to stop the driver from fleeing. He caught the hood of the truck, but the driver kept going.

He grabbed one of the side doors and was dragged toward Second Street, he said. He eventually let go and slid, scraping his arms. The driver and passenger were described as white, “chubby” and in their 20s.

“This just is not right,” Paniagua said. “It didn’t seem right when they revved the engine.”

Another video posted on YouTube has surfaced which shows the encounter with two young men.

The Rev. Ralph Whitted of Cincinnati told the Reno Gazette-Journal he was standing at the intersection of Virginia and Second streets when he saw the truck speed off.

“He was weaving in between cars, gunned it and nearly clipped another car,” Whitted said.

The incident, which was posted on Facebook and seen by 70,000 viewers and shared by over 1,600, is being investigated.