A series of shootings in Los Angeles resulted in two civilian deaths and ended with the gunman’s death on Orange County’s 91 Freeway on Tuesday morning.
The shooting spree began just before 1 a.m. when Los Angeles Police officers responded to a shooting at Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard.
The gunman was later identified as Carlos Lopez, a 51-year old Los Angeles resident.
The Fullerton Police Department stepped in to assist in the traffic closure on the freeway at the termination of the pursuit and had no other involvement with the pursuit or investigation. No officers were injured in the shooting.
The search for the suspect was triggered after a 43-year-old man, who had sustained a gunshot wound to the head, had a dashcam that showed the suspect in a white Jeep Cherokee.
Not long after the first drive-by shooting, the gunman pulled up alongside a newlywed couple sitting in line at a drive-through Starbucks and opened gunfire, near 28th Street and Figueroa Street. The husband, Alexis Carbajal, was killed while his wife sustained injuries.
Mingzhi Zhu, a 42-year-old Rideshare driver, was fatally shot by the gunman on 7th and Figueroa streets. Zhu was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other vehicles were shot at, which resulted in one person being struck by the open fire although no one was harmed.
According to the LAPD Twitter page, it wasn’t until police caught up with the shooter near Washington Boulevard and Maple Avenue that the pursuit eventually led them to a shootout westbound at the Raymond overpass on the 91 Freeway in Fullerton.
California Highway Patrol used a spike strip to slow the shooter’s vehicle and a SWAT team was brought in to talk the man into surrendering safely. After he refused, more open gunfire was released between the shooter and officers until a SWAT officer fatally shot the Lopez.
A handgun was recovered from Lopez’s vehicle and the 91 Freeway was closed down in both directions while the scene of the shooting spree was being investigated.
The gunman’s motives are currently unknown, but with two of the victims being Asian men, the LAPD is investigating whether these incidents were racially motivated, considering the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year.
“Part of the investigation is to go and look at the suspect’s past, talk to family, talk to friends and people that may know them and come up with some type of reasoning why he may have done what he did but at this time, I have no details specifically as to his state of mental health,” said Sgt. Barry Montgomery of the Los Angeles Police Department during a press conference.