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NASCAR driver Bobby East killed in stabbing; police fatally shoot suspect

NASCAR driver Bobby East in 2006. East, 37, was killed in a stabbing at a California gas station, authorities said. (Getty Images)

NASCAR driver Bobby East was fatally stabbed this week at a California gas station, authorities said, and police fatally shot his alleged killer while investigating the stabbing Friday.

East, 37, was filling up his vehicle at a 76 gas station in Westminster, Calif., about 6 p.m. Wednesday when he was confronted by a man and stabbed in the chest, according to authorities. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

“The victim was found on the ground suffering from a serious stab wound to the chest area,” the Westminster Police Department wrote in a news release.

Westminster police and the United States Auto Club confirmed in news releases that East had been killed.

Police announced that Trent William Millsap, 27, was a suspect in the stabbing. Millsap fled the scene as authorities arrived, according to police. They described him as a potentially “armed and dangerous” transient.

On Saturday, Westminster police said in news release that police fatally shot Millsap at an Anaheim apartment where the West County SWAT team had gone to serve a warrant for him. No officers were injured, but a police K-9 suffered a gunshot wound that was not life-threatening.

The Justice Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will investigate the police shooting, the news release said.

Police said the motive for East’s killing was not known.

Born Dec. 17, 1984, in Torrance, Calif., East was the son of USAC Hall of Fame car builder Bob East. He later moved to Brownsburg, Ind., to pursue his career in racing, according to USAC.

The auto club hailed East, a three-time USAC national champion driver, as “one of the most prolific drivers of his era.” East captured 56 career USAC-sanctioned feature victories during the course of his career. He competed in dozens of races for NASCAR as part of its Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series between 2005 and 2008, according to racing news site Frontstretch.

The auto racing world took to social media to mourn the loss of East.

“He was one heck of a wheelman,” tweeted Todd Bodine, a two-time NASCAR champion and analyst for Fox Sports.

Charles Krall, who worked with East during his career, recounted how much he loved seeing the driver race.

“In an open wheel car, there was no one better,” Krall wrote.