Skip to main content

Police: Man kills 3, himself in Southern California shooting spree

By Jason Hanna, CNN
February 20, 2013 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ali Syed killed three, wounded three during spree that involved carjackings in Orange County, police say
  • Authorities: Syed first killed woman at his parents' home, then shot at motorists
  • Suspect killed himself after police spotted him north of Tustin, police say

(CNN) -- In the middle of a shooting spree that killed three people and unleashed terror on Southern California motorists Tuesday morning, Ali Syed told one of his carjacking victims to walk away, police say.

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

According to preliminary accounts from police, Syed, 20, didn't intentionally spare another target.

Police say they believe Syed, a part-time college student, fatally shot a woman at his family's Ladera Ranch home before killing two other people -- including a senior citizen executed outside his vehicle -- and wounding three others as he fired a shotgun at Orange County motorists on the Costa Mesa Freeway and committed three carjackings.

The spree ended when Syed died after he turned his gun on himself as police approached on a road north of Tustin, authorities say.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department says it was called to the Ladera Ranch home, where Syed lived with his parents, on a report of shots fired about 4:45 a.m. PT.

A woman in her 20s was found dead there. Police said she wasn't related to Syed, but they didn't release her name, and they said they didn't know why she was at the home.

Syed left the home in his parents' SUV, police said. About 25 minutes after that police call and 20 miles to the northwest, Syed drove into a Denny's and Big Lots parking lot in Tustin, exited the vehicle and shot a driver in the back of the head, Jordan said.

The wounded motorist -- a man who was waiting for his son to carpool with him to work -- managed to drive away before stopping near an overpass, Jordan said. The victim was being treated Tuesday, police said.

That's when Syed, whose SUV had a flat tire, approached the man he would spare. Syed ran toward the man at a nearby gas station, took his keys and drove the pickup truck away without firing at him, Jordan said.

Syed then drove south on the Costa Mesa Freeway, exited onto a transition road, got out of the vehicle and fired a shotgun at southbound vehicles on the freeway, hitting three vehicles, police said.

One of the freeway drivers was wounded in the hand and face, but investigators don't know whether the wounds were from shotgun rounds or debris, according to Jordan.

Police said Syed then drove to nearby Santa Ana, crashing the pickup into a curb on a freeway off-ramp. There, he pointed the shotgun at Melvin L. Edwards, 69, of Laguna Hills, who was in a BMW at a stop sign.

"Syed ... got (Edwards) out of the car at gunpoint, walked him across the road and executed him -- shot him three times," Jordan said.

Syed drove Edwards' BMW to the parking lot of a Tustin-area Micro Center computer store, where police said he found his next two shooting victims.

Syed shot and killed Jeremy Lewis, 26, of Fullerton, who was in a vehicle in the lot, police said. Lewis had worked at a construction site across the street.

People from the construction site then approached, and Syed shot and wounded one of them in the arm, Jordan said. Syed entered that person's vehicle and drove north on the Costa Mesa Freeway before exiting again.

By that time, authorities had received many phone calls about the shootings, and California Highway Patrol officers found Syed driving at an intersection about 5 miles north of Tustin, Jordan said.

Syed exited the vehicle as it slowly rolled near the intersection, according to police.

"There really wasn't a confrontation at that very end," Jordan said. "As soon as he got out of his vehicle, before it actually came to a complete stop, he shot and killed himself," Jordan said.

Syed was unemployed and taking one class at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, an Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

Police said they're trying to determine what led to the shootings, and that they didn't yet know of a motive.

CNN's John Fricke contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT