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Nation & World

Shooting spree across Calif county leaves 4 dead

Investigators walk past a tarp-covered body in Orange, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Police say a chaotic 25-minute shooting spree through Orange County left a trail of victims before the shooter killed himself. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Investigators walk past a tarp-covered body in Orange, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Police say a chaotic 25-minute shooting spree through Orange County left a trail of victims before the shooter killed himself. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TUSTIN, Calif. (AP) — The violence stretched across 25 miles in Orange County and was as brutal as it was fast-moving.

In less than an hour, a man in his 20s 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."

It was unclear if the victims knew each other or the shooter, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.

"It might have been a random thing," he said. "We just don't know."

The violence began at 4:45 a.m., when deputies responded to a call in Ladera Ranch, a sleepy inland town about 55 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found a 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.

Hours later, his neighborhood was flooded with police, and crime scene tape sectioned off the street.

Glass said a man and three young children had been escorted from the home where the shooting occurred.

"I just happened to be in here when this happened," Glass said about his garage. "To think he could have rolled under my door or needed a car or needed to hide is crazy. It's freaking me out."

From Ladera Ranch, police said the gunman headed north and within 30 minutes carjacked a Dodge pickup truck in Tustin, about 20 miles away. The driver was uninjured, but a bystander was hit by gunfire and taken to a hospital.

The suspect then began firing at vehicles in the area where Interstate 5 and State Route 55 connect.

Three people reported being targeted, including one who suffered a minor injury, Tustin police Lt. Paul Garaven said. Two cars were damaged.

When the truck got low on gas, the gunman stopped at State Route 55 and McFadden Avenue in Santa Ana, stole the BMW and killed the driver, Bertagna said.

The shooter then drove to a Tustin business called Micro Center and carjacked another small truck, killing one person and wounding another, Garaven said.

Officers trailed the gunman to Orange, a city about five miles away.

As they closed in, the man got out of the vehicle at a busy intersection and shot himself, police said.

A shotgun was recovered at the scene.

_____

Associated Press Writer Sue Manning in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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