Two people were killed and three injured in a pre-dawn shooting Monday at four 7-Eleven stores in Southern California, authorities said. At least three of the four shootings are believed to involve the same gunman.
The shootings appear to have occurred after pre-determined robbery or attempted robbery at four convenience stores on July 11 or November 7 – a day that the national 7-Eleven brand celebrates its birthday. 95th birthday by handing out free Slurpee drinks.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones,” 7-Eleven, Inc. said in a statement. “We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement.”
Investigators did not immediately know what led to the shootings in the cities of Riverside, Santa Ana, Brea and La Habra, or why the violence occurred on July 11.
Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesman for the Riverside Police Department, said: “I think the only person who would respond would be the suspect, where the first shooting happened at around 1:50 a.m. in Riverside, about 10 miles from Los Angeles. 85 kilometers to the east.
“It can’t be coincidental that it’s 7-Eleven, July 11th,” he said.
Railsback says the Riverside shooting – where the victim is in a serious condition – has yet to be officially connected to the others, though he notes that “they all seem very, very similar. “
In the Riverside case, he said the gunman robbed an employee and brandished a gun, then turned the weapon on a customer, opened fire and fled.
Railsback said: “There seems to be no reason for the suspect to shoot the customer. “It seems the secretary gave him whatever he asked for.”
Man dies in parking lot in second shot
The second shooting happened around 3:20 a.m., about 63 kilometers away in Santa Ana, authorities said.
Officers responded to reported shootings at a 7-Eleven in that city and found a dead man in a parking lot with a bullet in his upper body, according to Sgt. Maria Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Santa Ana police department. The violence appears to include a targeted robbery.
“At this point, we don’t believe he is an employee,” Lopez said of the victim there. “We really don’t know yet what he was doing there in a parking lot, whether he was a potential customer or just walking past.”
Lopez said detectives believe the suspect in the Santa Ana murder is the same person who later traveled about 19 kilometers to Brea, where a 7-Eleven employee was found dead from a gunshot wound. around 4:18 am.