TUSTIN, Calif — The violence stretched across 25 miles in Orange County and was as brutal as it was fast-moving.
In less than an hour, a 20-year-old student shot and killed a woman in her home and two commuters during carjackings early Tuesday, shot up vehicles on a Southern California freeway and committed suicide as police closed in on him, authorities said.
One driver was forced from his BMW at a red light, marched to a curb and killed as witnesses watched in horror.
“He was basically executed,” Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. “There were at least six witnesses.”
The shooter, Ali Syed, was an unemployed, part-time student who lived with his parents at the Ladera Ranch residence where the first victim was slain, Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan said. Authorities said Syed was taking one course at Saddleback College, a two-year community college.
Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said the woman killed at the home was in her 20s. She was not identified and was not related to the shooter, he said, adding that it wasn’t known what she was doing at the home.
Syed’s parents were in the house at the time and fled the residence when shots rang out, he said.
Jordan said Syed stated to one carjacking victim: “I don’t want to hurt you. I killed somebody. Today is my last day.”
The violence began at 4:45 a.m., when deputies responded to a call from Ladera Ranch, a sleepy inland town about 55 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found the woman shot multiple times.
Jason Glass, who lives across the street, said he couldn’t sleep and was watching TV in his garage with the door partly open when he heard what sounded like gun shots.
Then he heard a commotion and the sound of a car speeding away.