Santa Ana police identified a suspect in a bizarre killing that followed a possible kidnapping or carjacking at a gas station earlier this month, but once officers located the suspect on Thursday an incident occurred, and they shot and killed him, officials said.
Police have not released the name of the fatally shot suspect, but Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the Orange County District Attorney's Office issued a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of murder after the case was presented to prosecutors Thursday.
The man was accused of killing 34-year-old father Hugo Sanchez Jr., who was shot dead a few blocks away from the Shell station on Edinger Avenue on Aug. 14.
Investigators previously said Sanchez may have been carjacked or kidnapped by two men while pumping gas in the early morning hours.
Sanchez was involved in an altercation with the two Hispanic men, who had approached him, before getting into his late 90s Ford pickup with them and driving away. At the time, police were unsure whether Sanchez had drove away with them willingly, and they did not provide an update on that part of the investigation Thursday.
A witness told KTLA he saw one of the men shoot Sanchez in the back as he was running away, before firing three more rounds from a close range. Another car then came to pick up the two assailants, the bystander said.
Sanchez's body was found outside his truck near the intersection of Grand and East Wilshire avenues.
"Our homicide detectives got the case, they've been working the case ever since," Bertagna said. "Based on their investigation, including evidence such as video, they were able to identify the main suspect as well as another in this case, as well as a vehicle."
On Thursday, detectives' search for the main homicide suspect led them to a car wash near the corner of First Street at Cypress Avenue, where the vehicle involved was spotted.
There were two men in the car, which was sitting in the business' parking lot, Bertagna said.
Officials are still investigating what led up to the fatal use of force. Bertagna could only confirm that "something occurred" after police made contact that led at least one officer to open fire.
One of the men was struck — the one wanted on a murder warrant — and he died after being transported to the hospital, Bertagna said.
The second man was not injured. Police took him into custody and are interviewing him to determine whether he was possibly also involved in Sanchez's killing.
Several people at the car wash witnessed the incident and will also be interviewed, police said.
The vehicle they were in was impounded and will be processed as evidence.
Despite fatally shooting the main suspect, officers were still able to make an arrest in the case on Thursday, Bertagna said.
A warrant had also been issued for a second suspect, who was arrested in connection with Sanchez's death at a separate location, the corporal said.
Officials declined to release further details about the location and time of the arrest, and did not confirm what charges the second suspect was arrested on suspicion of.