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Deadly O.C. Shooting Spree

OC Shooting SpreePolice say that 20-year-old Ali Syed shot and killed a young woman at his parents’ home in Ladera Ranch, then went on a rampage through Orange County.

In the end, authorities say he killed two more people and injured three others before shooting and killing himself.

 

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ali-syedLADERA RANCH — The 20-year-old suspected of going on a killing spree across Orange County last week left a suicide note on his computer within an hour of committing suicide.

“Within the note were indications that the events Ali Syed was responsible for were premeditated and planned,” Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials said in a Friday news release.

Investigators recovered the note from a desktop computer removed from Syed’s bedroom in the Ladera Ranch home.

The Sheriff’s Department did not release the text or more details of the note.

Syed, a college student, is believed to have killed 3 people 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 20-year-old Courtney 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.

LADERA RANCH, Calif. (KTLA) — There are new details in the violent Orange County shooting rampage that left four people dead, including the alleged gunman.

courtneyaoki692Police have identified the first victim of Tuesday morning’s murder spree as 20-year-old Courtney Aoki, of Buena Park.

Authorities have also released the frantic 911 call made by the parents of the suspect, 20-year-old Ali Syed.

“I think somebody’s shot … in my house,” Syed’s mother says. “Somebody’s shot. I think there’s somebody shot.”

Hysterical, the woman tries to answer the dispatcher’s questions. Her husband eventually takes over the phone.

“Can you please send somebody here?” he says. “Our son lives with us and I think they got into a fight or something and we heard a gunshot.”

The father also tells the dispatcher that their son has a rifle that he purchased legally.

The parents said they had not gone into their son’s room, but they thought he had left the home in their SUV. They said they did not see a victim.

After allegedly shooting and killing Aoki, police say Syed set off on his 75-minute-long shooting spree, killing two more people and injuring three others.

Syed ended up shooting himself to death as he was being pursued by authorities.

Investigators say they’re not sure what might have set Syed off. He has been described as a loner who spent a lot of time alone in his room playing video games.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said Syed left “no evidence, no note, nothing that would explain this very bizarre, violent behavior.”

He said that, after talking to witnesses and those who knew Syed, “nothing indicated… any violence in the past or anything of that nature.

Syed was unemployed and enrolled in one computer class at Saddleback Community College. He had no criminal record.

No drugs were found in Syed’s room, Amormino said, though toxicology results were still pending.

Meantime, KTLA has learned that the first victim, Courtney Aoki, was going to college and was paying for school by stripping.

KTLA spoke exclusively to a man who often drove Aoki and other girls, and provided security for them when they went to entertain clients. He did not want to be identified.

“I was one of her drivers. She was a stripper,” the man said. “She stripped so she can pay her way through college,” he added.

“What you do is drive her to the place of the person who wants her to strip,” the man explained. “And you drive her there, you stand there and wait for her to come out.”

“If there’s a big party, let’s say a bachelor party, and there are five or six people, you go in there with her and make sure no one touches her.”

He said that he wasn’t with Aoki on Tuesday morning, but he feels terrible about what happened.

“Very nice girl, very sweet girl,” he said, describing Aoki. “One of the sweetest girls I know. Very quiet, very respectful, very polite. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Investigators have not confirmed any information about Aoki’s occupation. They say they are still trying to determine how she met Syed and why she was at his home.

Ali Syed was a 20-year-old loner who took occasional computer classes at a community college and spent a lot of time alone in his room playing video games, said an Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

How he crossed paths with 20-year-old Courtney Aoki remains a mystery.

OC Shooting Spree Suspect 2Early Tuesday morning, Aoki was in Syed’s bedroom, inside the town house he shared with his parents in the upscale Ladera Ranch development.

Gunshots rang out from the bedroom, and Syed ran out of the house and drove away, police said.

Aoki was dead from multiple wounds from a shotgun Syed’s father had bought him about a year ago.

So began a rampage through Orange County in which Syed killed three people and injured three others before taking his own life, police said.

Authorities on Wednesday released 911 tapes in which Syed’s frantic parents reported the shooting.

But officials said they were no closer to knowing a motive for the shooting rampage.

“There’s still a lot of work to do in this case,” sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Syed left “no evidence, no note, no nothing that would explain this very bizarre, violent behavior.”

Authorities said they didn’t know how Aoki got to the Ladera Ranch home. She was dressed when she was found, and there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Syed’s mother called 911 at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday.

“I think somebody’s shot … in my house,” she said. “Somebody’s shot. I think there’s somebody shot.”

Hysterical, the woman tried to answer the dispatcher’s questions. Her husband eventually took over the phone.

“Can you please send somebody here?” he said. “Our son lives with us and I think they got into a fight or something and we heard a gunshot.”

The parents told the 911 operator that they were sleeping when they heard what they thought was a gunshot downstairs.

They did not enter their son’s room, they told a dispatcher, but said he had left the home in their SUV.

“He’s gone out,” the father said. “He took the car we have…. Yes, he’s not home right now. He drove away.”

They told the dispatcher they did not see a victim.

“I have not gone in his room,” the father said in answer to a dispatcher’s questions. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Detectives had difficulty identifying Aoki, Amormino said, because she had no identification and no vehicle at the Ladera Ranch residence.

No missing person reports had been filed on her.

Amormino said Aoki was identified Wednesday morning from a second set of fingerprints, but authorities were unable to find her mother until about 2:30 p.m.

Although Aoki’s mother also lives in Orange County, Aoki did not live with her, Amormino said.

Unemployed and enrolled in one course at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Syed had “most of the day and evening” to play games, Amormino said. “Most of his free time was playing games.”

Investigators are still searching Syed’s computer for more information, including which games he favored.

Syed had been enrolled at Saddleback since the fall semester of 2010, and had earned about 30 credits, said Jennie McCue, a college spokeswoman.

Syed took mostly general education courses that would be needed to transfer to a four-year university.

He was enrolled in a computer maintenance and repair class, McCue said.

Syed graduated in 2010 from Junipero Serra Continuation High School in San Juan Capistrano, where “students who have faced many personal and academic obstacles discover their own resiliency by making good personal choices,” according to the school’s website.

After allegedly killing Aoki, Syed headed north on the 5 Freeway.

Syed left the 5 Freeway in Tustin. Authorities said he wounded one man and then approached another man pumping gas at the adjacent Mobil station and politely asked him for the keys to his pickup.

“I just killed someone,” he told the man, adding that he didn’t want to hurt him, according to police. “This is my last day.”

From there, Syed headed north on the 5 Freeway, exiting onto the southbound 55 where he pulled over and began firing at passing vehicles, police said.

Three were hit and one driver was injured by flying glass.

Syed jumped back in the pickup and left the freeway at Edinger Avenue in Santa Ana, where he collided with another vehicle and crashed into a lane divider.

He abandoned the truck and accosted the driver of a BMW that was stopped nearby.

The driver, Melvin L. Edwards, was headed to work at his family manufacturing business when Syed ordered him from his car and walked him to the curb. Edwards complied yet Syed pumped three rounds into him, killing him.

Syed then drove Edwards’ BMW a half-mile to a Micro Center electronics store in Tustin, where plumber Jeremy Lewis, 26, of Fullerton, had pulled into the parking lot to begin his workday at a nearby hotel construction site.

A co-worker saw Lewis being chased by an armed Syed and drove to the site to help.

Syed killed Lewis, wounded his colleague and sped away in Lewis’ work truck.

Syed then got on the northbound 55 Freeway, where California Highway Patrol deputies spotted him shortly before 6 a.m.

They followed Syed as he exited at Katella Avenue in Villa Park. After driving a few blocks, Syed jumped from the slow-moving vehicle and shot himself in the head.

-Los Angeles Times

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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