Orange County News

Orange County shooting spree: Suspect kills 3, commits suicide; motive sought

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Undated file photo of Ali Syed, 20, of Ladera Ranch. Syed is suspected of killing three people and injuring several others during a shooting spree in multiple places in Orange County on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Melvin Lee Edwards (left) and Jeremy Lewis were killed by a suspect who went on a shooting and carjacking spree on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Investigators are seen outside a home where a woman was fatally shot in Ladera Ranch Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

A 20-year-old student is suspected of killing three people and injuring several others in Orange County early Tuesday before turning the gun on himself.

The suspect was identified as Ali Syed of Ladera Ranch. A motive for the shooting spree was not clear. Authorities said Syed had no criminal history. Police originally said he was armed with two long guns, but later said it appeared he only had one weapon, a shotgun.

Police responded to a call of a shooting at a home at Red Leaf Lane in Ladera Ranch around 4:45 a.m. When officers arrived, they found a woman dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Syed lived at the residence with his parents. He allegedly shot and killed the unidentified woman before fleeing in his parents' black SUV. It was not clear what the woman, described only as in her 20s, was doing in the residence. She was not related to Syed, according to the department.

Syed then allegedly participated in three different carjackings and shootings at different locations in Tustin and Santa Ana.

Police said the suspect crashed at Red Hill Avenue and Nisson Road in Tustin sometime before 5:30 a.m. and attempted to carjack a vehicle. During the attempted car theft, the driver was shot in the back of the head as he tried to speed away. The victim survived and was hospitalized.

From there, investigators said Syed went to a gas station and took someone's car.

"Mr. Syed being very polite said, 'I don't want to hurt you. I killed somebody, today's my last day. Give me your keys,'" said Tustin Police Chief Scott Jordan.

Investigators said Syed continued on the 55 Freeway and even stopped to shoot in the direction of at least three other vehicles, causing minor injury to one person.

Police responded to a second call of a fatal carjacking and shooting shortly after. The suspect allegedly killed a victim near the 55 Freeway off-ramp at McFadden Avenue and Village Way in Santa Ana. That victim was identified as 69-year-old Laguna Hills resident Melvin Lee Edwards, a businessman and Vietnam veteran.

"The suspect was driving a vehicle that he had taken in the Tustin incident," Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said in a 10 a.m. news conference. "Reports are that he got out of the vehicle, confronted our victim who was in his BMW. He orders him out of his vehicle, walks him to the side of the curb and executes our victim."

Syed then drove to the Micro Center parking lot near the 1100 block of East Edinger and Newport Avenue in Tustin. Two additional victims, identified as construction workers, were reportedly shot there. Fullerton resident Jeremy Lewis, 26, was killed. The second construction worker was wounded in the arm.

Syed allegedly took another vehicle from there. Officers located the suspect in the stolen vehicle and followed him to the city of Villa Park.

Syed then fatally shot himself on Wanda Road and Katella Avenue, according to authorities. California Highway Patrol, Orange police and Tustin police officers were on scene as it happened. There was reportedly no confrontation between police and the suspect when he shot himself.

"As he exited the vehicle, he took the shotgun, put it to his head and killed himself," Jordan said.

The two wounded carjacking victims were taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. An additional victim suffered minor injuries but was not hospitalized. He was reportedly shot on the freeway. Officials said two additional vehicles were reportedly damaged by the suspect's gunfire.

Several agencies were investigating the shootings near freeways in the Tustin area, including the Orange County sheriff's, Tustin police and Santa Ana police departments. Police said they were investigating five different crime scenes.

Authorities said there were no further suspects. The investigation was ongoing.

Syed was reportedly unemployed and was taking one class at Saddleback College, according to O.C. sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

Saddleback spokesperson Jennie McCue confirmed Tuesday night that Syed was enrolled in one class this semester at the school, a computer maintenance and repair class. McCue said Syed was a student at Saddleback since the 2010 fall semester, and had taken one to two classes per semester.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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