LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A suspect wanted in three separate drive-by shootings early Tuesday morning in Exposition Park and downtown Los Angeles — which left two people dead — was himself shot and killed by police following a lengthy pursuit and a dramatic standoff on a major freeway in the Orange County city of Fullerton.
The situation unfolded just before 1 a.m. when the suspect opened fire on a car in the area of Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard, according to Los Angeles police. One person was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
About 10 minutes later, a second shooting occurred in a Starbucks drive-thru at Figueroa and 28th streets. A 25-year-old man, later identified as Alexis Carbajal, was sitting in his car in line at the drive-thru when he was shot multiple times and died on scene, police said.
The family of the victim told told CBSLA that he was in his 20s and lived in the area. His wife was in the car with him, but she was not hurt. His sister worked as a barista at the Starbucks, but was not working at the time of the shooting.
“The first attack, it’s my understanding, there were no exchange of words,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. “The second attack there was. The contents of that will be important for us to understand what was in the mindset of this individual.”
A third drive-by shooting took place minutes later at Figueroa and 7th streets in downtown L.A, where the driver of a Cadillac Escalade was also killed. The 41-year-old man, later identified as Mingzhi Zhu, was working as an Uber driver and was on his way to pick up a passenger when he was shot.
“The officers quickly discovered that it was the same shooting suspect description, a male in a white Cherokee, that information was immediately put out to all patrol units to stop the violence,” LAPD Lt. Raul Jovel said at a Tuesday morning briefing in Fullerton. “The officers realized the suspect was shooting community members, almost at random.”
The shootings also prompted nearby USC to issue an alert to its student body.
During a Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Moore was asked whether the department was investigating the shootings as a hate crime after learning two of the victims were of Asian descent.
“We are very mindful of the potentiality for that and leaning into that very actively,” he said.
About 15 minutes after the third shooting, officers spotted the suspect’s Jeep at Washington Boulevard and Maple Avenue, and a pursuit ensued.
The SUV wound its way onto the 10, 57 and 60 freeways and down its Orange County. The suspect shot at officers during the chase, the LAPD reports.
At around 3:30 a.m., California Highway Patrol deployed spike strips, which were successful in bringing the Jeep to a stop on the westbound side of the 91 Freeway, near the Raymond Avenue exit, on the border of Anaheim and Fullerton.
However, the suspect refused to exit the SUV and continued to act erratically, rolling his windows up and down. An LAPD SWAT team was called in and the 91 Freeway was shut down in both directions.
Police attempted to negotiate with the man using loudspeakers.
“At one point, they tried to have the suspect talk to a family member, that was unsuccessful,” Jovel said.
Police deployed flashbangs and tear gas into the Jeep. Then, at around 5:15 a.m., the suspect allegedly opened fire on officers, prompting them to return fire. He was struck and killed.
“At one point the suspect fired at the officers, resulted in an officer-involved shooting,” Jovel said. “The suspect was hit by gunfire and was pronounced dead at scene by the local fire department.”
A pistol was recovered from the scene. The suspect, a man in his late 40s or early 50s, was not immediately identified.
“We have no idea what precipitated this,” Jovel said.
All lanes of the westbound 91 Freeway remained closed most of the day, but reopened after 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, Figueroa Street was shut down between 27th and 30th streets in Exposition Park for more than eight hours while detectives canvassed the multiple crime scenes.