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Motive for San Fernando Valley Crime Rampage That Left 4 Dead and 2 Injured Remains a Mystery

One day after a violent crime rampage left four people dead and two others injured, investigators are still trying to determine what prompted Thursday’s series of shootings in the San Fernando Valley.

An image of Gerry Zaragoza was released by the Los Angeles Police Department.

An image of Gerry Zaragoza was released by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Authorities believe one man, 26-year-old Gerry Zaragoza, is responsible for the 12-hour long ordeal that began and ended in Canoga Park, but included four separate crime scenes and prompted a San Fernando Valley-wide tactical alert.

“He had anger issues. He always seemed upset with his parents. His family was really nice. I didn’t expect all this to happen,” a neighbor named Gabriel said after Zaragoza was captured.

Gabriel believes Zaragoza was struggling with drug and anger problems prior to Wednesday’s violent series of events.

Those events began about 2 a.m. at the Roscoe Boulevard Apartments where Zaragoza’s family lived.

Carlos I. Zaragoza is shown in a Facebook photo posted on July 5, 2019.

Carlos I. Zaragoza is shown in a Facebook photo posted on July 5, 2019.

Zaragoza is suspected of opening fire on three family members. The shooting resulted in the deaths of his father and brother. His mother was left wounded and taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life threatening.

Zaragoza’s father was later identified by a family friend as Carlos Zaragoza.

“Carlos was a good guy. I mean he always had problems with his son … He told me he (Gerry) was violent in the house. He was very violent … and I told Carlos, ‘get rid of him … take him to rehab,’” said Michael Ramia, the manager where Carlos Zaragoza worked.

Carlos Zaragoza Jr. and Blanca Zaragoza are seen in an image provided by a family friend.

Carlos P. Zaragoza and Blanca Zaragoza are seen in an image provided by a family friend.

Ramia identified the other victims as Carlos Zaragoza's wife Blanca Zaragoza, and their son who was also named Carlos Zaragoza.

On Thursday, Los Angeles County coroner's officials confirmed the identities of the two male victims as 56-year-old Carlos I. Zaragoza and 33-year-old Carlos Pierre Zaragoza.

Candles and flowers were brought to the scene later Wednesday evening to create a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the Zaragoza family.

Not long after the Canoga Park shooting, investigators say Zaragoza arrived at a Shell station in North Hollywood where he allegedly shot two more people.

Los Angeles Police Department Capt. William Hayes said Zaragoza knew both victims and described the woman as having a previous relationship or being acquainted with the suspect. The unidentified male victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Susie Lepe is seen in a photo provided by a family member.

Susie Lepe is seen in a photo provided by a family member.

The female victim was identified by coroner's officials as Azucena Lepe, 45.

A family member said Lepe went by the nickname "Susie."

A GoFundMe page for Lepe has also been created.

Lepe's brother told KTLA on Friday that after she met Zaragoza, the suspect became obsessed with the mother of four and harassed her.

Several hours later, around 7:20 a.m., Zaragoza allegedly attempted to rob a man at a Bank of America in Canoga Park.

The man was not injured in the incident, but the armed suspect was still hours away from being captured, and at about 12:50 p.m. authorities say Zaragoza was riding on an Orange Line bus.

In an apparently random act, Zaragoza allegedly shot and killed a man as he exited the bus in the area of Woodley Avenue and Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys.

Officers take a man suspected of killing at least three people into custody on July 25, 2019, in Canoga Park. (Credit: KTLA)

Officers take a man suspected of killing at least three people into custody on July 25, 2019, in Canoga Park. (Credit: KTLA)

“He didn’t even talk to his last victim,” Hayes told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s getting off the bus and he turns and shoots the person. It doesn’t look like there was any interaction between them.”

The victim was identified by coroner's officials only as an African American man in his 50s. His name was withheld pending notification of next of kin, according to the Coroner's Office.

Zaragoza was finally captured about an hour later when plain-clothed officers, who spotted him near Canoga Avenue and Gault Street, used a Taser to subdue him, the Times reported.

Zaragoza was still armed with a gun at time, Hayes said.

Correction: A video previously embedded in this story incorrectly characterized the relationship between the suspect and one of the victims. It has been removed. 

 

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