(CNN) -- It was two hours before sunset on a beautiful Saturday evening -- one of the busiest times of the week at the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
So no one knows why a driver apparently plowed into the crowd intentionally, hitting 12 people before ditching his car and running away.
One person later died, Los Angeles police Lt. Andy Neiman said. Another was in critical condition, and two more in serious condition, officials said.
Witnesses said the driver "purposefully maneuvered its way down the boardwalk" as he struck the victims, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
"It was horrible. I mean it was like something out of a movie, something you would never expect to see," witness Katherine Blackburn told CNN affiliate KABC.
"There were people flying, laying on the ground, tents flying everywhere. If he wanted to kill people, he came on a perfect time, 5 p.m. on a Saturday in the summer in Venice Beach."
Numerous victims were hauled away on stretchers, their legs covered with blood, CNN affiliate KCAL reported.
By late Saturday night, Los Angeles police had one suspect in custody, Lt. Andy Neiman said.
Police recovered the vehicle earlier in the evening after the driver abandoned it and ran off, Officer Daniel Chun said.
The crash took place on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, a popular tourist attraction on the west side of Los Angeles lined with hundreds of street vendors and performers.
This isn't the first time someone drove into a crowd of pedestrians in Southern California.
In 2003, an elderly man accidentally plowed his car through a busy farmer's market in nearby Santa Monica, killing 10 people and injuring 69.