First Victim of O.C. Gunman Identified by Police

VILLA PARK, Calif. — Investigators have released the name of the first of three victims shot and killed by a gunman in Orange County Tuesday morning.

20-year-old Courtney Aoki of Buena Park was the first victim of the shooting rampage. Her relationship with the shooter is still unknown.

courtneyaoki692Police say 20-year-old Ali Syed, a college student, committed the three murders and wounded three others before taking his own life in 75 minutes of terror.

Detectives say he began his rampage in Ladera Ranch, where he murdered Aoki inside his parents’ home.

Syed then drove to Tustin, Santa Ana and back to Tustin, carjacking three vehicles, killing two more victims and shooting at morning commuters on the 55 Freeway.

Then, with the California Highway Patrol in pursuit, Syed pulled off in Villa Park, aimed the shotgun at his own head, and pulled the trigger.

Authorities were stunned by what they described as the “senseless violence.” Syed had no criminal record and left few clues as to a possible motive, police said.

Police discovered Aoki around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday at a condo on Red Leaf Lane in Ladera Ranch.

Syed, who was unemployed and enrolled in a class at Saddleback College, lived there with his parents. It was his parents who called 911, according to police.

“I heard three to five pops, and they could have been bangs, I didn’t know what they were,” said neighbor Scott Glass. “I didn’t think anything of it.”

That would change after responding Orange County sheriff’s deputies found Aoki, who had been shot multiple times.

Meanwhile, Syed had taken off in the family’s black GMC Yukon, armed with at least one shotgun, authorities said. Possibly in his haste to flee, police said, he damaged the vehicle.

He exited Interstate 5 at Red Hill Avenue in Tustin about 5 a.m. and pulled into a Denny’s parking lot.

There, a man was sitting in an older-model blue Cadillac, waiting for his son to carpool to work.

According to police, Syed pointed his weapon at the man and ordered him out of the car.

Instead, the man sped away and Syed opened fire, shattering the rear window of the Cadillac and striking the man in the back of the head. The man was later treated at a hospital.

The gunman kept going to a nearby Mobil station, authorities said, where he spotted a man pumping gas.

“When they made eye contact, Syed started running toward the victim,” said Tustin Police Chief Scott Jordan.

“He said to him, ‘I don’t want to hurt you. I just killed someone. Give me your keys. This is my last day,'” according to Jordan.

Syed took the man’s Dodge pickup and headed north on Interstate 5, authorities said.

After merging onto the southbound 55 Freeway, he stopped on the shoulder, got out of the truck and opened fire on passing motorists.

He hit at least three cars, and one driver was injured by flying glass, according to police.

Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the gunman may have realized that the pickup was low on fuel and was trying to steal a second vehicle.

He ultimately returned to the stolen pickup and got off the freeway at Edinger Avenue in Santa Ana.

He hit another vehicle, slammed into a divider and abandoned the truck, authorities said. Then he approached a BMW that was stopped nearby, with his gun drawn.

Melvin L. Edwards, 69, of Laguna Hills, was on his way to work at Rubicon Gear, a small family business that manufactures high-precision gears and shafts.

Colleagues described the former U.S. Army combat infantry officer who served in Vietnam as easygoing, hardworking and generous with his employees.

Syed ordered Edwards out of the BMW and directed him to the curb, authorities said. He cooperated, but the gunman killed Edwards anyways.

“Walked him across the road and executed him… Shot him three times,” Jordan said.

The gunman then sped away in the BMW to a Micro Center computer store in Tustin.

Soon thereafter, workers at a nearby Fairfield Inn construction site heard gunfire.

A plumbing supervisor apparently spotted one of his co-workers being chased through an overflow parking lot and drove over to help him.

The co-worker, Jeremy Lewis, 26, of Fullerton, had just arrived for his 6 a.m. shift when, authorities said, Syed shot and killed him.

The supervisor who had gone to his aid was shot in the arm, police said. He was taken to the hospital to be treated for his wounds.

“It’s just heart-wrenching to look across the street and see what I see now. It’s bad. It’s really bad,” said a man who worked with the victims.

He said the victims were “just two good honest guys. They were just trying to make a living. Things happen so quick. One minute we’re sitting on the tailgate, the next minute tragedy happens.”

From there, Syed took off in one of the construction site’s work trucks.

California Highway Patrol officers spotted him on the northbound 55 Freeway shortly before 6 a.m.

He exited the freeway at Katella Avenue and got out of the vehicle while it was still in motion near East Katella and North Wanda Road, according to authorities.

That’s when Syed raised a shotgun to his head and fired, killing himself.

Back at the suspected killer’s home, at least one neighbor said that he wasn’t surprised by what had happened.

“He was just one of those people, you know, that looked like trouble,” neighbor Josh Hubner said. “Like when you saw him you should stay away from him.”

-KTLA/Los Angeles Times

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690 comments

    • ladyhawk

      well unless you had one of these tragedies you really cannot feel what the victim is feeling and why they want their personal story told. and gun owners that act like someone is taking something from them no they are not helping with THIS sensitive nature, just acting immature about the whole thing.

  • Francisco

    This should help californians understand that they need to regain their second amendment rights! What wll you do when you get attacked by one of these lawless thugs? You need the second amendment! You need firearms!

  • Scared in Tustin

    I live a block away from red hill and el camino real…. I heard 5 shots ending at 5:06am followed by screeching breaks and a small impact… First response heard at 5:10am…. There appears to be a car under the freeway on the wrong side of the road heading south on red hill….. Scary, odd and I would just like to understand why this crazy stuff happens!!

  • AZGuy

    I'm visiting from Arizona for the next month – and you want us disarmed?!

    Good luck!!!

    Perfect example of —} When guns are outlawed… I will become an outlaw.

    • Frank

      I see your point! I used to go to california, to visit family but now most of them have moved to Arizona and Texas! If you can, don't break their laws! Have them visit you and breathe the free air!

  • Original OG

    This sounds like a druged out idiot who figured he had nothing to lose. Put the wet daddy & meth down it is making a return in Calif. It probally was his mother he killed in the beginning.

  • Jon

    And here I thought the state of Kommiefornia having the toughest gun laws in the country was the safest place to be–I mean CRIMINALS would NEVER use a gun in a state where it is virtually impossible to get a gun legally..let alone carry one…and CRIMINALS would NEVER disobey a law..NEVER…/sarcasm off.

    • ladyhawk

      I know the legal law biding citizens of California and other states have committed horrific murders lately with guns did you not know that.

  • John

    Until we develop a system that keeps guns out of the hands of mental defectives, we will continue to have tragic events like this one, over and over.
    Allow and encourage responsible folks to be armed and enforce existing California gun laws.
    The problem is : Guns in the hands of criminals . Focus on that.

    • J. Lowe

      I agree completely with John's very well said post , which makes sense. Now why can't the politicians figure out what is so obvious, and forget about pandering to those twho give them money to get re-elected.

      " Until we develop a system that keeps guns out of the hands of mental defectives, we will continue to have tragic events like this one, over and over.
      Allow and encourage responsible folks to be armed and enforce existing California gun laws.
      The problem is : Guns in the hands of criminals . Focus on that. "

      • ladyhawk

        That is all I am talking about and people like normal do not read all they are suppose to they just see one thing they do not like and out comes the harsh comments. And they wonder why kids do not listen to them, to radical.

  • Cagigglez

    Or…you could let people concealed carry. Then they could have defended themselves and still be alive! What?! Blasphemy…. you are ridiculous- California has the strictest gun laws in the nation… Yet… gun violence is still rampant. Maybe start looking at the bad people, instead of their weapon choice.

    • ladyhawk

      gun laws does not mean we have no gun problems after all yes we do have those strict laws but at least we are trying to stop violence. come to the board with a thought of solution and not false so called funny comments that make you look well stupid

  • TeaPartyPat

    If California allowed Concealed Carry, a good guy with a gun could have stoped this bad guy with a gun. It's not that complicated.

    • ladyhawk

      yes and one day a guy though well I need to protect my store. He had a gun to but funny thing on the way to get the burglar the burglar took his gun and shot him. Any thing bad can happen when guns are involved it does not have to go HOW YOU THINK IT MIGHT, just a a quick note of the truth

      • Allen

        You are a fool. When does this happen? This is a libtard story that is a bold face lie and stretch! It happens 1 time in a million and you repeat it like its a everyday thing. What is an everyday thing is people outside the blue states protect themselves with weapons and avert "robbery, murder and rape" daily. Many times a day. When you disarm the population criminals need not worry. Just keep up the stories. And don't take responsibility for your own protection.

    • ladyhawk

      well when you talk about gun or gun control or how as a victims you feel about it well the people who think we want there guns nervous systems go all haywire, they get crazy do not listen to the facts all they here is they want my guns and I will be damn only out of my dead hands wow

    • M Kinz

      the guy who said that was found dead at the bottom of a pool…..your namesake…if Rodney had just surrendered he would not have been beaten

  • mike

    oh boy here come all the gun lovers/haters.

    You people need a life every time something like this happens the gun nuts say "see if everybody had a gun this could have been stopped"…lol yeah right.

    Nothing stops somebody bent on doing this you couldnt pull and fire before this nut shoots. Oh and you weekend toughguys at the range…you would wet your pants before you could even fire.

  • Tom

    Well at least when Kalifornia takes all of our guns we won't need the police BECAUSE there won't be ANY VIOLENCE!
    Now that's an unintended consequence.

  • Roger Arcand

    Guns are for killing either you do not kill anything anymore or you do ( animals or humans ) We do not need to hunt for food anymore . So if you want to get your rocks off at gun range then the gun stay there locked up . If you use a gun for criminal any criminal offences then you forfeit your right to live ( new Law) called the "highest branch" law . If you are mentally ill or not . Eventually it will have to come to this as it IS out of control .

    • ckirmser

      Oh, Roger, you are hilarious.

      You may want to take a gander at the Second Amendment, sometime. I mean, unless it's too hard to educate yourself…

  • voiceofreason

    Gun violence is not rampant. If you look at the facts (i.e., actual crime statistics) violent crime has plummeted over the last 20 years. These kinds of incidents are, of course, tragic, but are not an indicator that our society is going haywire.

    • ladyhawk

      well our society is going hay wire and yes crime is down but not down enough. Well as long as the gun deaths continue society is going to go haywire. until pride washes out of man we are in trouble crime down or not

  • John B

    OJ killed two people with a knife, shouldn't we have banned knives after that? If you put a knife and a loaded gun on a table in a room full of people NO ONE will be hurt unless someone picks one or the other up (and a sane person wouldn't do that).

  • jonny

    Here is a grand idea….stop telling your kids how special they are and stop doing everything for them. Stop buying them every thing they want/see. Show them that there are consequences to their actions (not a timeout). Lead by example…if you're kid is alienated, fat, reclusive, or "off", chances are they learned that behavior from you. Stop the welfare cycle…stop trying to take religion out of everything…it's where our morality comes from. Stop blaming all of our woes on the government or the dems or repubs..take responsibillity for your own actions. More laws won't change anything. More guns won't change anything. The change has to be in behavior and in mindset.

    • ladyhawk

      Jonny who are you talking to? your self? stop making up stories, stop telling people what they are doing for or to with their kids. You know nothing and you are not leading by example. Are you on the welfare or something, why did you bring that one up