LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A man suspected in a string of violent crimes along Western Ave. from Hollywood to South Los Angeles faced capital murder charges Monday, authorities said.

Patrick Watkins, 51, was arrested Thursday at his apartment in the South Los Angeles area and was booked on suspicion of two counts of murder and at least 24 counts of attempted murder, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Watkins was charged with the special circumstance murders of Nathan Vickers on Jan. 17, 2011, and Larise Smith on Dec. 8, 2014., according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The special circumstance of multiple murders makes him eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said.

He faces a total of 53 criminal counts, including 26 counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of assault with a firearm, five counts of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, four counts of second-degree robbery and felon in possession of a firearm, according to the complaint (PDF) filed Monday.

The incidents occurred in convenience stores and other businesses, generally between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., along an eight-mile stretch of Western Avenue between Nov. 2011 and Nov. 2014, according to prosecutors.

Watkins is suspected of riding his bicycle up to people sitting in cars, either demanding cash or opening fire on the occupants. In some cases, he allegedly approached people on foot and either robbed them or shot them.

DNA evidence lead investigators to Watkins, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. A handgun believed to have been used in the homicides and the armed robberies was recovered by police, Beck said.

Speaking at a news conference at LAPD headquarters, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti described Watkins as a “cold-blooded killer”.

“In some ways, just calling him a bandit doesn’t begin to capture the fear and the actions of this man,” Garcetti said. “He’s a cold-blooded killer, somebody who terrorized the streets of Los Angeles for too long.

“But with this arrest, the streets of Los Angeles become a little bit safer for all of us,” he added.

Watkins was being held without bail, according to the sheriff’s department.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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