COVINGTON, Ga. – A man accused of driving a car that struck two sisters and their three small children outside a McDonald's restaurant hit them intentionally, authorities said Wednesday.
"There was clear intent to injure the people. It was obvious," Police Chief Stacey Cotton said. "This was absolutely not an accident."
The car struck the five, hit the restaurant, then backed up and hit them again Tuesday, police said. All five were hospitalized, and a 2-year-old was critically injured.
Lanny Barnes, 46, appeared before Chief Magistrate Judge Henry Baker on Wednesday. Barnes faces five felony charges of aggravated assault and was ordered held without bail pending a mental health evaluation.
Barnes' mother, Mary Barnes, said her son has suffered depression for years.
There was no apparent connection between the victims and Barnes, and that authorities have no motive, Cotton said.
McDonald's worker Ryan Boldman-Snyder was outside on a break when the attack happened and said the driver was "smiling the whole time."
Cotton said he would not comment on eyewitness reports that Barnes was smiling and laughing in the car after hitting the victims.
The police chief praised McDonald's employees and customers who tried to apprehend Barnes and assist the victims.
One employee took one of the injured children to a nearby hospital, "possibly saving that child's life," Cotton said.
"It would have been a lot worse if some citizens had not jumped in and started pulling people away from the car," Cotton said.
The conditions of Anita King, 36, of North Carolina, and her sister, Stephanie Casola, 33, of Covington, were unclear Wednesday.
King's 2-year-old daughter, Avery Nicole, was listed in critical condition at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, while Casola's children, Jacob Paul, 4, and Isaac Raymond, 3, were in serious condition.