A 34-year-old man who may have been kidnapped or carjacked while pumping gas in Santa Ana Tuesday morning was found shot to death a few blocks away, police said.
The incident began when the victim, Hugo Sanchez Jr. of Santa Ana, went to get gas at the Shell station near the intersection of East Edinger Avenue and South Grand Avenue about 1:47 a.m., according to a Santa Ana Police Department news release.
Sanchez was seen pumping gas when he was approached by two male Hispanics, and an altercation ensued, said police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The victim then got back into his vehicle -- a late 90s Ford pickup truck -- and drove off with the two men, Bertagna said.
It's still unclear if he got into the vehicle willingly or was forced. Police had received reports of a possible carjacking or kidnapping, and that's what prompted officers to respond to the Shell station, according to the release.
An employee at a local business told KTLA he saw the two perpetrators in another vehicle. One of them, who had a gun, got out and confronted Sanchez, who was behind the wheel in his own car, the worker said.
The employee said at some point, Sanchez ran away, during which the gunman shot him in the back.
After Sanchez dropped to the ground, the assailant went over and fired three more shots at close range before another car came and picked him and the other man up, according to the employee.
The employee said the entire incident was captured on surveillance video, but the footage has not been released.
Sanchez's body was later discovered outside his vehicle near the intersection of Grand and East Wilshire avenues, just a few blocks from the station.
He had been fatally shot at some point between the gas station and where his body was found, Bertagna said.
The two men seen getting into the truck with the victim were not found at the scene. It was unclear if they fled on foot or had their own vehicle nearby, Bertagna said.
Authorities are trying to determine a motive for the shooting and are not sure if the victim knew his attackers.
Before police released Sanchez's name, an individual who identified himself as an old friend of the victim's said he had been helping his family look for him.
The person said the family heard about the murder and was afraid Sanchez was the victim. He said he had not seen his friend for a while, but that his lasting memory of him was that he was always with his young daughter, whom he said was about 8 or 9 years old.
Detectives were reviewing surveillance video from the gas station in their search for the killers.
Grand Avenue was closed temporarily from Edinger Avenue to nearby Century High School during the investigation.
The closure was “going to be an issue” for students trying to get to school Tuesday, Bertagna said.
Drivers were asked to enter on the east side of the campus from McFadden Avenue to the north.
Anyone with information on the shooting was asked to call the Police Department at 714-245-8390 or Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.