LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A gunman on a shooting rampage in southern California killed three people on Tuesday in an attack at a home and three carjackings, before killing himself with a shotgun as officers closed in, police said.
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, southeast of Los Angeles, including the cities of Tustin and Santa Ana.
The violence occurred just a week after a massive manhunt for a fugitive former Los Angeles policeman wanted in a series of shootings targeting officers and their families ended in a fiery stand-off in the mountains above Los Angeles.
In Orange County, authorities first received a call on a shooting before dawn at a home in Ladera Ranch, 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, said Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
Officers arrived to find a woman shot to death. The gunman, who was in his 20s, fled the scene in a sport utility vehicle and headed to the city of Tustin, about 15 miles away, Amormino said.
The gunman committed his first carjacking in Tustin, near the 5 Freeway, where he shot and wounded a person, police said. That person is expected to survive, Amormino said.
Blocks away at an off-ramp for the 55 Freeway, on the border between Tustin and Santa Ana, he targeted a man with a BMW vehicle in a second carjacking, police said.
“He orders him out of the vehicle, walks him to the side of the curb and then executes our victim,” said Santa Ana police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna.
Behind the wheel of the BMW, the gunman drove back into Tustin where he committed another carjacking, killing one person and wounding another, police said.
At one point, the gunman also opened fire on a freeway, causing minor injuries to one person and damaging two cars, Tustin police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Garaven told reporters near a command post in his city.
Authorities said they were still investigating the motive of the gunman, who killed himself with a shotgun after officers pulled him over in his stolen vehicle in the nearby city of Villa Park, police said.
Police said they were still seeking to determine any possible relationship between the gunman, whose name has not been released, and the woman at the home in Ladera Ranch. None of the gunman’s other victims knew him, Garaven said.
“We’re still investigating how many victims we might have,” Garaven said. He added that some more people or cars may have been hit when the gunman opened fire on the 55 Freeway.
Despite early reports that he was using two so-called “long guns,” which include weapons such as rifles, only the shotgun has been recovered so far and police said it was unclear if the attacker had another firearm.
(This story has been corrected to fix name of Santa Ana police spokesman in paragraph 8 and location where suspect died in paragraph 11)
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Andrew Hay and Dan Grebler