LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A man who died in a police shootout in Fullerton after allegedly carrying out a killing spree in Los Angeles hours earlier was identified Wednesday as 49-year-old Carlos Lopez.
Lopez is suspected of killing two men and injuring a third during a shooting spree in Exposition Park and downtown Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. Lopez then led Los Angeles police on a wild pursuit down into Orange County, which ended in a standoff on the 91 Freeway in Fullerton.READ MORE: Drive-thru Food Giveaway Helps Hundreds Of Families In Costa Mesa
Seth Jones was driving on the 10 Freeway going west near the Crenshaw Blvd exit when out of nowhere, Lopez drove right up to him and started shooting. He immediately called 911.
“The operator knew exactly what was going on,” he said. “She told me there’s this man that just killed someone in la and he’s shooting people on the freeway and stuff.”
Jones managed to escape unharmed.
Lopez was later shot and killed by LAPD officers after opening fire on them, authorities said. His identity was confirmed to CBSLA Wednesday by an LAPD official.
The victims were identified Tuesday as 24-year-old Alexis Carbajal and 42-year-old Mingzhi Zhu. The shootings are believed to have been random in nature. No motive has yet been determined.
The situation unfolded just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a man opened fire on a car in the area of Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard in Exposition Park. A man was taken to a hospital with injuries, but survived.
About 10 minutes later, a second shooting occurred in a Starbucks drive-thru at Figueroa and 28th streets. A 24-year-old man, later identified as Carbajal, was sitting in his car in line at the drive-thru when he was shot multiple times and died on scene, police said. His wife was in the car with him, but she was not hurt.
“The first attack, it’s my understanding, there were no exchange of words,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. “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 man, later identified as 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.”READ MORE: Pine Fire Near Palmdale Scorches 442 Acres, 79% Contained
About 15 minutes after the third shooting, officers spotted Lopez’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. Lopez 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, Lopez 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 him using loudspeakers and even brought in his family members.
“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., Lopez 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.
“We have no idea what precipitated this,” Jovel said.
During a Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Chief Moore was asked whether the department was investigating the shootings as a hate crime after learning two of the victims were of Asian descent.MORE NEWS: $25 Million Challenge Grant Made For Wildlife Crossing In Agoura Hills
“We are very mindful of the potentiality for that and leaning into that very actively,” he said.