Police Still Unclear on Motive Behind Deadly Orange County, Calif. Shootings

A chaotic shooting spree through Orange County, Calif. left four dead, including the gunman, Tuesday morning, police say.

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AP / Jae C. Hong

Investigators stand next to a tarp covered body in Orange, Calif., believed to be the gunman in a spree that left four dead.

Authorities still have no motive behind the Southern California shooting spree that left four dead, including the gunman, Tuesday morning. But in the chaos, the gunman, who shot his victims as he carjacked several people during the Orange County, Calif., early commute, shattered the sense of tranquility residents of the community about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles were used to.

The shooter, identified by police as unemployed part-time student Ali Syed, 20, began the killing in Ladera Ranch at about 5:20 a.m. He fatally shot an unidentified woman at his home, then fled in an SUV, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino. His parents were in the home at the time and fled to call police.

A neighbor heard the commotion in the house early on, telling the Orange County Register that he heard gunshots around 3 a.m., then more noise an hour later. “I was in the garage and the door was cracked,” Jason Glass said. “When I opened my garage door this morning, my whole house was covered in tape.”

As police looked for the gunman,  a series of carjackings took place in the early daylight before rush hour. The first was near Interstate 5, where a bystander was shot but not fatally wounded. The second carjacking took place near the Costa Mesa Freeway, in which police say the gunman shot and killed a motorist before taking off in that person’s car.  Police soon received reports of a man with a gun not far from the scene of the second carjacking. Two more people were shot, one fatally, before the assailant stole another car.

Police finally closed in on the gunman in the city of Orange, outside Anaheim as he pulled off the I-5 freeway. But before they could take him into custody, he apparently shot and killed himself. Authorities have still not confirmed the gunman’s relationship with the first victim or any motives. A shotgun was recovered at the scene.

The shooting spree comes just over a week after Southern California was placed on high alert when Christopher Dorner led police on a manhunt into the mountains after he shot four people to death, including a San Bernadino County sheriff’s deputy and Riverside patrolman. Dorner was killed in the standoff with police.

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The Associated Press contributed reporting