Chilling Details of OC Shooting Rampage Revealed

Police today pieced together the string of carjackings and executions that killed four people in a deadly chase across Orange County Tuesday.

A 20-year-old woman who was the first victim in a multi- city Orange County shooting rampage was identified today as a Buena Park resident, but her relationship with alleged gunman Ali Syed was still unclear, and it was unknown why she was at his Ladera Ranch home.

Courtney Aoki was identified using fingerprints, according to Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The relationship between Aoki, who police said was gunned down about 4:45 a.m. Tuesday in Syed's home on Red Leaf Lane in Ladera Ranch, was still unknown, Amormino said, adding they "do not appear to be girlfriend and boyfriend."

  • Listen to Syed's mother and father report Aoki's shooting here.

Syed's family did not recognize the woman, Amormino said.

Syed shot himself at the end of his Tuesday morning rampage. Amormino said an autopsy confirmed that Syed died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Syed's father had legally bought his son a 12-gauge shotgun, Amormino said.

Investigators were waiting for toxicology tests to determine if Syed had any drugs in his system, Amormino said. Those tests could take six to eight weeks.

The suspected gunman -- who was unemployed, living at home with his parents and taking one class at Saddleback College -- killed two more people during the rush-hour shooting spree.

Syed, who had been taking computer classes at Saddleback since the fall of 2010, was "kind of a loner (who) doesn't have a lot of friends," Amormino said.

Syed was also an avid video game player.

"He spent a lot of time alone in his room playing video games," Amormino said.

Aoki did not live with her parents, and her mother did "not shed any light as to her occupation" when she spoke with investigators, Amormino said.

There's "absolutely" no truth to reports there were narcotics in Syed's room and there was no evidence of a sexual assault, Amormino said.

"There's no evidence to explain his bizarre, violent behavior," Amormino said.

Syed's parents have a bedroom on the third floor of their home, and Syed's bedroom was on the first floor, Amormino said. The parents said they were unaware their son had a visitor, Amormino said.

After shooting Aoki, the suspect fled in an SUV and tried to carjack a number of vehicles in the Tustin area, police said. The first carjacking occurred at 5:10 a.m.

A man who was shot in the head by the suspect in the parking lot of a Big Lots store at Red Hill Avenue and El Camino Real was hospitalized, but was expected to survive, Tustin police Lt. Tom Tarpley said. The man, whose name was not released, had been waiting for his son to carpool to work. When he saw the suspect coming, he punched the accelerator and tried to drive away, but Syed, who was out of his vehicle, shot him, Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan said. The victim crashed the car a short distance away.

Syed then got back into his vehicle, but ditched it minutes later because it had a flat tire, Jordan said. It was then that he stole a man's Dodge pickup truck at a Mobil gas station at Red Hill Avenue and Nisson Road, Tarpley said.

A "very polite" Syed walked up to the gas station customer and, according to Jordan, said, "I don't want to hurt you. I killed somebody and today's my last day. Give me your keys."

Syed drove the truck onto the northbound Santa Ana (5) Freeway, but stopped and got out of the pickup at the transition to the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, where he opened fire on passing vehicles in an attempt to procure another vehicle, Tarpley said.

One motorist sustained a bullet wound to the head, but the Tustin resident -- who was not carrying a cell phone -- was able to drive to his house, where he called for help, Jordan said. The man's name was withheld.

Police found seven shell casings at the freeway shooting scene, Tarpley said.

The owner of the Dodge pickup never put gas in the truck at the Mobil station, prompting the suspect's search for another vehicle, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

A short time later, 69-year-old Melvin Lee Edwards of Laguna Hills was fatally shot in a carjacking on Village Way at the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway off-ramp in Santa Ana. Edwards, who owned an aerospace business in Santa Ana, was on his way to work, Bertagna said.

"Reports are that he got out of the vehicle, confronted our victim who was in his BMW ... he orders him out of the vehicle, walks him to the side of the curb and executes our victim," Bertagna said.

Edwards is survived by his wife and adult son and daughter.

The gunman got into Edwards' BMW and drove back into Tustin, where another carjacking occurred near the Micro Center at 1100 Edinger Ave.

"It was also a call of a man with a gun," Tustin police Lt. Paul Garaven said. "We arrived on scene. There (were) two victims. One victim is deceased. The other victim suffered a gunshot wound and is being treated for those injuries."

The fatally wounded victim, 26-year-old Jeremy A. Lewis of Fullerton, was working at a hotel construction site across the street from the Micro Center, Tarpley said. As one of Lewis' co-workers ran across the street toward the sound of gunshots, Syed opened fire and shot him, as well, then took the unidentified man's pickup truck and fled, Tarpley said.

California Highway Patrol officers were closing in on Syed when he got out of the truck at east Katella Avenue and north Wanda Road in Villa Park and committed suicide, Tarpley said.

Police said they recovered the shotgun the suspect used in all the shootings and were trying to determine ownership of the weapon.


-City News Service

jeff s February 21, 2013 at 07:15 AM
So Peter, Jim can bag on American Christians on this site but we cannot call out Muslims for their consistent amd endless terror attacks... Quote - " I'm sure you believe you're also good "Christians"...attending services every Sunday..."
fact checker February 21, 2013 at 07:36 AM
Jeff, give it up. Your posts are unacceptable.
jeff s February 21, 2013 at 07:39 AM
Keep drinking the koolaid "fact checker".....
JustUs February 21, 2013 at 07:52 AM
"This was a terrorist event. " No. Christopher Dorner was a 'terrorist' because his murderous rampage happened after he snitched off another cop. Mr. Syed did not snitch off a cop first, therefore he could not rightfully be labeled a 'terrorist'. Let's keep our fact in order here. :^)
jeff s February 21, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Yes.. Agreed, O-bots and brainwashed masses in here. I hate censorship. Apparently if you are not liberal enuf or say what they approve of, your comments get cut...
JustUs February 21, 2013 at 05:07 PM
You are very lucky, Johnny Utah. A moderator never came on the board and selectively chastised you for what you said. All they did was delete your comment. My comment was so innoculous that they left it intact - but the moderator (Martin Henderson) still came onto the comment board and openly chastised me by name while omitting the names of those who vigorously attacked me with insults and demeanful comments. But this is what happens when an engaged citizen speaks his mind with well-thought out opinions based on facts that irks the other side of the ideological spectrum. He becomes a target. I have broad shoulders. And I accept the fact that I will be selectively targeted for chastisement by those who set the rules. That is part of the price I pay for being an engaged citizen who cares enough to point out the wrongs in society that need to be righted. This is supposed to be encouraged in America. Oftentimes, it is not.
CM February 21, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Just a thought, how far do you think Syed would have went if people were allowed to carry weapons? He might have been stopped before the 2nd killing.
Happy Camper February 21, 2013 at 11:00 PM
The murderer's address was shown and mentioned on every TV news station - so Patch isn't to blame!
jim capistrano February 22, 2013 at 12:01 AM
That's not true...no news outlet ( and I'll even include Fox News in that generalization) gives out addresses. Just city or a certain part of that city.
Clint Worthington February 22, 2013 at 12:11 AM
Jim Capistrano, it is interesting that Patch finds it ok to publish an address, but will not publish what a perpetrators race is. As an example, when the Mayor in SJC was beat up, the other news organizations would publish the race, but Patch would not, even though the OCSD had given them that information.
jim capistrano February 22, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Yeah...given that information we could go looking for the thugs...with torches in our hands...just like the 'ol days...or we could leave it up to the OC sheriff dept....and act as judge, jury and executioner...
Whophantom February 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
"There's no evidence to explain his bizarre, violent behavior," Amormino said. He was a friggin spoiled South OC brat who played video games & hired strippers probably from money his parents give him & bought him a friggin shotgun! For what? If u are a South OC parent, stop enabling your kids. Plenty of work in the agricultural fields in Irvine!
Smokey Bear February 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Video games detach young people from reality & a mentally ill person acts out Grand thefft Auto game! People dont let your kids play violent video games, keep them busy surfing, playing soccer, anything but that!
Smokey Bear February 22, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Jim Capistrano, who are you talking about in saying , "they are racist"? I am not a racist being from south OC. & I'm sure not a stereotype. I just read your comments & wasnt sire who you were talking to. I guess they got scarred & removed their comments. By the way I have zero tollerence for racism & stereotyping people, pet peaves of mine. I just like to think of people as people, judged by their merits. This person had mental illness, there is no sain person who would pick up a gun & just randomally shoot people! His parents should have noticed & also should have been more involved or in touch with his life. No kids should be playing violent video games!!!!!
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Jeff, Jim wasn't bagging on Christians, he was bagging on hypocrites. The attack was a little below the belt with his assumption the commenter was a Christian, but not patently offensive.
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Yes, we're all such awful censors, Jeff. I only applied to Patch after I found out the North Korean government had no use for me, and Iran didn't trust my loyalties. Really the rules are pretty simple--don't use hate speech, don't attack other commenters and don't use bad words. If you can't tell if you're doing one of those things, we'll let you know by deleting your comment, or possibly banning you from the site.
Panglonymous February 22, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Just something to consider: Patch editors are doing more with less resources than they ever have. Less staff, more work, same pay. In this, they are no different that the average corporate employee. Perhaps you are one, or know one. If so, what do you crave most? Some slack? Some understanding of the unreasonable demands you are laboring under? An acknowledgement of your common humanity? Another thing to remember is that many of these folks are veteran journalists. They have probably done more meaningful work. I don't expect they relish the role of board nanny. So, give 'em a break if you can. Don't take immediate offense. Don't agitate where the probable result is far more heat than light. Have a sense of humor. In short, self-moderate. Humbly offered. FWIW. Pan
fact checker February 22, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Orrrr, if staffing is a problem and people have better things to do than monitor the same people over and over, how about 3 deleted comments and you're out?
jim capistrano February 22, 2013 at 04:44 AM
Panglonymous February 22, 2013 at 04:56 AM
Hey fact I don't know what kind of internal interface they're looking at, but if it's consistent with the user interface I've come to know, I don't envy them. That and the (apparent) fact that an individual can establish/hold multiple anonymous accounts makes the prospect of aggressive moderation daunting. Thus consenting adults agree to emotional prophylaxis... or something. ;-)
fact checker February 22, 2013 at 05:11 AM
Consenting AND adults? A pretty big expectation, but I'm up for it. Do they have to ACT like adults? Another solution might be to require real names. That is my personal favorite. I know, I know, hypocritical coming from an anonymous poster. But I do post under my real name on the OCR. I will only do it if the same is required from everyone.
Panglonymous February 22, 2013 at 06:33 AM
"Do they have to ACT like adults?" Nah, I like the way you act, fact. In fact, sub rosa, you are the most admired Patch member with the screen name 'fact checker' in the OC. {{{wet kiss}}}
Yeparoo February 22, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Oh, I suppose next we'll hear the NRA suggesting 'escorts' carry handguns.
Morgan February 26, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Why does it matter what race the killer was? Do you think that by knowing the race, you'll have an "aha" moment? Black, white, asian, whatever; it's all irrelevant. This was a tragedy, but there's no need to generalize.
Morgan February 26, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Hey now, we're not all like that.
Clint Worthington February 26, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Morgan, when the Mayor of our town was beat up, Patch has a policy of not including the race of the perpetrator. It is very helpful when you are looking for someone to know what race that individual is. The OCSD includes it in their press release.
Happy Camper February 27, 2013 at 02:44 AM
The news media cameras were focused on the actual house and the name of the street mentioned numerous times on the air. #5 was shown on the outside of the home. I saw it myself.
Dick Jones April 26, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Why not? You may personally believe you don't need to defend yourself and rely on the police, just don't impose your ignorance on others.
Dick Jones April 26, 2013 at 04:41 PM
"Video games detach young people from reality & a mentally ill person acts out Grand thefft Auto game!" Stereotyping at it's finest.
jim capistrano April 26, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Why is it that the people who shouldn't ever own a gun are the people that own guns?


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