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4 dead, including gunman, in California shooting spree
February 20, 2013
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TUSTIN: A part-time college student armed with a shotgun went on a shooting rampage in southern California on Tuesday, killing a woman at his home and slaying two others during a series of carjackings before taking his own life, police said.

Authorities identified the gunman as Ali Syed, 20, and said he took the gun from a home he shared with his family in the normally quiet community of Ladera Ranch, 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The motive for the shootings was unclear.

The rolling spate of violence, which included at least one execution-style killing, spanned several miles across a number of communities in suburban Orange County, including the cities of Tustin and Santa Ana.

The early morning commute was just getting under way on suburban Orange County's network of freeways when Melvin Lee Edwards pulled up to a stop sign near a busy off-ramp.

It was just after 5am and Edwards, 69, was on his way to work when, police say, the suspect forced him out of his BMW at gunpoint, marched him across the street and shot him three times from behind as horrified commuters watched.

The shooting was the second of three murders in a trail of carnage early Tuesday.

Syed had no known motive and acted slone, said Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan. The first victim, a woman in her twenties, has not been identified and was not related to Syed, he said.

The violence began at 4:45am, when deputies responded to a call from Ladera Ranch, a sleepy inland town about 55 miles (88 kilometres) southeast of Los Angeles.

They found the woman shot multiple times.

Syed's parents were in the house at the time, fled the residence when shots were fired, and reported it, Jordan said.

From Ladera Ranch, the gunman headed north and pulled off Interstate 5 in Tustin, about 20 miles away, with a flat tire, police said.

A man who was waiting in a shopping centre parking lot to carpool with his son saw Syed had a gun and tried to escape in his Cadillac, Jordan said.

Syed ran after the car as it drove away and fired his shotgun through the back window, striking the driver in head but not killing him.

The driver "noticed that he was loading his shotgun, so he simply gets back in his car and tries to escape," Jordan said.

"He's driving through the parking lot trying to get away and the suspect is actually chasing him on foot, taking shots at him." Syed then crossed the street to a Mobil gas station, where he approached the driver of a pick-up who was filling his tank and asked for his keys, Jordan said.

"He says something to the effect of, 'I've killed somebody. Today's my last day. I don't want to hurt you. Give me your keys,'" the police chief said.

"He hands over the keys and he gets in the truck and leaves." Syed got back on the freeway, where he pulled to the side of the road at the busy I-5 and State Route 55 interchange and began firing at commuters, Jordan said.

One driver was struck in the mouth and hand.

He didn't have a cellphone, but was able to drive home and call police.

Two other cars were hit but their drivers weren't injured, Jordan said.

"All of this is happening so quickly," he said, estimating that Syed shot at drivers from the side of the freeway transition for about a minute.

The shooter then exited the freeway in nearby Santa Ana but ran the curb and got his car stuck, authorities said.

He approached Edwards, shot him three times, took his BMW and next popped up at the Micro Centre, a Tustin business, where he shot and killed construction worker Jeremy Lewis.

Lewis' co-worker rushed to intervene and was shot in the arm, Jordan said.

Syed took the second construction worker's utility truck and fled to Orange, this time with California Highway Patrol officers in pursuit.

He jumped from the moving utility truck at an intersection in Orange, about five miles away, and shot himself in the head, Jordan said.

"There really wasn't a confrontation at the very end," he said.

"It happened so quickly." A shotgun was recovered at the scene and is believed to be the only weapon used.

A message left at Syed's parents' home wasn't immediately returned on Tuesday.


Associated Press

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