O.C. shootings: Ladera Ranch neighbor heard a 'bunch of ruckus'
Residents in one Ladera Ranch neighborhood saw crime tape and police vehicles when they awakened Tuesday morning as authorities investigated what appeared to be the first in a string of shootings across Orange County that left at least four people dead, including the suspect, and others wounded.
Jason Glass said he was across the street from the crime scene, working in his garage, when between 2 and 3 a.m. he heard what he now believes were three to five gunshots. About 4 a.m., Glass said, he "heard a bunch of ruckus" — no yelling, but lots of doors slamming — before a car sped away from the house.
"I just thought somebody was being really loud and obnoxious," Glass said.
Deputies arrived about 4:45 a.m. after receiving a 911 call from inside the home reporting a shooting, Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said. Deputies found a woman dead inside the home; no one else was hurt. It's unclear whether anyone was home at the time of the shooting.
The suspect, described as a man in his 20s, fled in an SUV to Tustin, where “multiple incidents” occurred, Amormino said.
“There’s a lot to sort out,” he said.
Tustin Police Lt. Paul Garaven said the suspect attempted to carjack multiple vehicles in Tustin, with each shooting occurring a few minutes apart.
Police received a report about 5:30 a.m. of a carjacking near Red Hill Avenue and Nisson Road near the 5 Freeway in Tustin, Garaven said.
The carjacking suspect opened fire and wounded a bystander, he said.
Soon after that, another carjacking was reported near the 55 Freeway, Garaven said. The victim of that carjacking was killed, Garaven said. A body lay covered by a yellow tarp on Village Way near the McFadden Avenue freeway entrance.
Another shooting was reported on Edinger Avenue near the Micro Center in Tustin, Garaven said. Officers confirmed that another carjacking had taken place, he said.
One person was killed and another was taken to a hospital. Officers spotted the suspect in a stolen vehicle, followed him into the city of Orange and initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of East Katella Avenue and North Wanda Road, Garaven said.
The suspect then shot and killed himself, Garaven said. Garaven said there is “no threat to the community” because the suspect is deceased.
Three schools are near the Orange intersection where the suspect shot himself, said Mike Pollok, director of student and community services for the Orange Unified School District.
The schools are Villa Park Elementary School, Villa Park High School and Cerro Villa Middle School, Pollok said. The district received multiple calls from parents early Tuesday, and many students walk through the area to reach their schools, he said.
School officials sent messages to the families of students at those schools, letting families know the schools were open and that the students were safe, Pollok said.
“We’re open for business, and there are no lockdowns,” Pollok said, and police “are keeping everyone well away” from the crime scene.
Investigators in Orange examined the body in the street Tuesday morning and sealed off the intersection.
The body had been covered with a yellow tarp, but investigators lifted the cover and closely examined the body, which appeared to have sustained head wounds. The man lay face-down, his shirt rolled up his back. Authorities later loaded the body into a van.
Amormino said deputies were still trying to piece together a possible motive and the relationship between the suspect and victims, including the woman at the first incident in Ladera Ranch.
Glass, the neighbor, said a couple had lived at the home for about a year with three children. The family was quiet, he said.
“No noise ever came out of that house,” he said. “No cops ever came to that house, nothing. This is really weird.”
— Kate Mather and Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles; Rick Rojas in Orange