Police have now arrested a 33-year-old Hispanic man from Garden Grove. Investigators are still piecing together the deadly outburst, which left behind slashed and stabbed victims at an apartment complex, a gas station, an insurance business, a 7-Eleven store and a Subway restaurant.
“We have no motive at this point,” Garden Grove Police Lt. Carl Whitney told reporters in a news conference late Wednesday. “We don’t know. I don’t know if he was under the influence of drugs or not. But we know he was full of anger and harmed a lot of people tonight.”
Robbery was a motivating factor, Whitney said, but there’s no clear reason as to why there were so many deaths and injuries.
At 4:09 p.m. local time, Whitney said, police responded to a burglary call at an apartment in Garden Grove, a city of more than 170,000 southeast of Los Angeles. Twenty minutes later, they got word that a man in a silver Mercedes had robbed a nearby bakery.
As they headed to that crime scene, another call came in from the same apartment complex they’d just visited. This time, two men had been stabbed multiple times. One, who was found on a balcony, died at the scene, Whitney said, while another inside the apartment was rushed to a hospital and later died there.
At 5:40 p.m., the next call came in: A check cashing business had been robbed. No one was hurt, but police soon realized they were dealing with the same suspect — a man armed with a knife, driving a silver Mercedes. Twenty-five minutes later, police were called to a nearby insurance business, where, this time, the man had repeatedly stabbed a female employee. She was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive, Whitney said.
By now, police had called for all available backup and were desperately searching for the Mercedes.
“We have multiple crime scenes, so it’s pretty dynamic for our city to have that much happening at one time,” Whitney said.
At 6:09 p.m., Whitney said, the suspect crossed into Santa Ana, Calif., pulled up to a Chevron gas station, and began brutally attacking a man pumping gas.
“He stabbed him with multiple knives or machetes,” Whitney said, citing witnesses, some of whom showed police video of the assault. “His nose was almost severed off.”
The man, despite multiple significant wounds, is also expected to survive, Whitney said.
By 6:25 p.m., police had found the silver Mercedes in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Santa Ana. When the suspect came out, armed with a knife and a handgun, police quickly subdued him and arrested him.
But they didn’t know there were more victims still to discover. Inside the 7-Eleven, the suspect had disarmed a security officer, taken his gun, and then fatally stabbed the man, Whitney said.
Police then discovered that the man had also struck a Subway across the street, where he’d also fatally stabbed a worker.
“This is a heinous act,” Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRé told reporters. “It’s unfortunate that four people lost their lives.”
Police declined to name the suspect until they identified him with witnesses from the many crime scenes. Asked whether there was any racial or political motive to the attacks, Whitney noted that both the suspect and all the victims were Hispanic. The victims were all randomly chosen, Whitney said.
So what motivated the murders?
“Robbery hate, homicide,” Whitney said, “All of the above.”