Man Facing 15 Counts After Allegedly Stabbing Woman, Stealing BMW and Hitting Pedestrian in Lake Forest

James Carlos Melendrez is seen in a booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on April 17, 2019.

James Carlos Melendrez is seen in a booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on April 17, 2019.

A 25-year-old man was charged Thursday with a dozen felony counts related to a violent and sprawling rampage involving nine victims, including a mother he stabbed after breaking into her home and another woman he mowed down with a stolen BMW, earlier this week in Lake Forest, prosecutors said.

James Carlos Melendrez of Anaheim is also facing three misdemeanors in the crime series he allegedly carried out in a span of less than 10 minutes Tuesday night, according to a criminal complaint.

The violence began around 5 p.m., when investigators say Melendrez got into a fight at the Salvation Army on Rockfield Boulevard. He then allegedly ran into a unit in an apartment complex on Ridge Route Drive, but fled after being confronted by a man inside.

But he ran into a neighborhood across the street and broke into another stranger’s home on Danby Drive by smashing a sliding-glass door in the back, officials said.

Marylou Villalobos Palos was inside with her two daughters, ages 15 and 13. The elder child, Evelyn Palos, told KTLA it was “like something out of a horror movie.”

Melendrez allegedly armed himself with a knife from the family’s kitchen and chased the mother down the street, where she had run in attempt to draw the intruder away from her children.

Home security cameras captured Villalobos Palos being chased down the street screaming, “He wants to kill me! Help!”

At the end of the cul-de-sac, Melendrez caught up with the woman and stabbed her repeatedly on Mullin Road, deputies said.

A group driving by in a white BMW spotted the attack and stopped to intervene, but Melendrez began chasing them instead and wound up stealing their car, according to investigators.

Marylou Villalobos Palos is seen, left, in an undated photo provided by her family, and at right in a still from home surveillance footage as she ran from an assailant who wound up stabbing her on April 16, 2019, in Lake Forest.

Marylou Villalobos Palos is seen, left, in an undated photo provided by her family, and at right in a still from home surveillance footage as she ran from an assailant who wound up stabbing her on April 16, 2019, in Lake Forest.

One of the BMW’s occupants, Daniel Alexander, said the assailant was “smiling the whole time like he was having a good time.”

Melendrez was driving dangerously and on the wrong side of the road as he made his way down Lake Forest Drive and onto Muirlands Boulevard, where he struck a woman in her 50s walking on the sidewalk, authorities said.

The suspect continued onto Aspan Street and crashed into another vehicle, prompting him to flee on foot into a mobile home park nearby. He allegedly tried to break into another home there but failed.

As Melendrez was trying to carjack other victims on Muirlands Boulevard, a bicyclist passing by pepper-sprayed him, officials said.

Melendrez was subsequently arrested and taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Both Villalobos Palos and the female pedestrian were hospitalized in critical condition, but expected to survive.

Enrique Palos, the stabbing victim’s husband, said doctors told his wife she could be released from the hospital this week if things go well.

Melendrez is now facing 15 counts: two counts of attempted murder causing great bodily injury; two counts of attempted murder; two counts of attempted carjacking; two counts of battery; two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a car; one count of assault with a deadly weapon, a knife; one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury; one count of first-degree residential burglary; one count of attempted aggravated mayhem; and one count of aggravated trespassing of a dwelling.

The defendant’s arraignment was scheduled for Thursday, but the court date was continued to May 17.

Inmate records showed Melendrez remained in custody on $2 million bail.

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