Investigators confirmed Thursday a pair of fatal shootings that took place within about 30 minutes in Colton and Moreno Valley were linked and said the 38-year-old suspected killer was arrested in San Diego after briefly taking a restaurant employee hostage.
Police initially responded to a shots fired call just after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 1200 block of East Washington Street, a news release from the Colton Police Department stated.
Officers found the victim, a 37-year-old woman, suffering from gunshot wounds to her upper body behind a gas station located at the address.
The woman was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she died from her injuries.
The shooter fled the scene after acquiring another vehicle, according to the Police Department.
Then, at 5:53 p.m., officers in Moreno Valley were called to the 23000 block of Lake Valley Drive, where they found a man and woman in the street with gunshot wounds. The woman was hospitalized but the man was pronounced dead on scene, according to a news release from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
The relationship between the shooter and the victims was unknown.
The suspected gunman was identified in the sheriffs' news release as 43-year-old Jason Barton of Moreno Valley. A later release from the Colton Police Department, however, stated he was actually 38.
Barton was arrested in San Diego, according to the release.
He was taken into custody at a taco restaurant in the city's Mission Hills area after a brief standoff with police, KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego reported
Barton grabbed an employee by the neck and held the worker at gunpoint along with a customer, the station said. When San Diego police arrived, he released the employee and walked backwards toward officers, as ordered, video from the scene showed.
The man surrendered to officers, who later learned he was wanted in connection with stolen car that was tied to the Colton and Moreno Valley homicide investigations, according to KSWB.
The San Diego Police Department would not confirm details to KTLA, referring inquiries to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which described the incident as Barton having "sought refuge in a restaurant and an employee called police."
Homicide investigators from the Colton Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff's Department went to San Diego.
Barton was taken by Colton police to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he was being booked on suspicion of murder, according to the Police Department. He also faced a parole violation charge.
KTLA's Geoff Peters contributed to this report.