Calif. DMV identifies victims of Tuesday shooting spree

By Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press

TUSTIN, Calif.  — The first of three people killed in a gunman’s rampage was identified Wednesday as a 20-year-old woman.

Police did not know why she was in the home of the shooter, who lived with his parents and was described by authorities as a video game-playing loner.

Courtney Aoki, 20, of Buena Park was shot multiple times early Tuesday in the home where gunman Ali Syed, 20, lived, said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.

Authorities don’t know her occupation, how she might have known Syed, how she got in the house — or what drove Syed to kill her with a shotgun and then leave a trail of dead and wounded as he stole a series of cars and eventually committed suicide at an intersection.

“There is no evidence, no notes that would explain his very bizarre and violent behavior,” Amormino said, adding there was no evidence of a sexual assault and the woman was found fully clothed.

The shootings and carjackings lasted about an hour and created chaos and terror for early morning commuters who were shot at, had their car stolen or saw someone get shot.

In one 911 call, a panicked construction worker reported that the foreman at his business had been shot and one of the company’s trucks stolen.

The man then followed Syed in another truck as he fled on the freeway, telling a dispatcher his location.

“The guy has a shotgun and I need an ambulance too,” the caller said. “There is someone who has been shot. Hurry up! I need an ambulance. Right away. Fast. There’s someone with a shotgun. There’s someone down! There’s someone down!”

Syed was a loner and a “gamer” who spent hours holed up in his room, authorities said.

“He took one class at college and he did not work, so that gives him most of the day and evening and most of the time in his free time he was playing video games,” Amormino said.

A 12-gauge shotgun used in the killings belonged to Syed and was purchased by his father about a year ago, he said.

The rampage began before dawn Tuesday at the home in Ladera Ranch, a wealthy Orange County suburb about 50 miles south of Los Angeles, and ended 25 miles to the north during the early morning rush hour.

Syed killed two more people during carjackings, injured at least three more, and shot up cars zooming down a busy freeway interchange before he ended it by putting the shotgun to his own head as police closed in.

The other two victims were identified as driver Melvin Lee Edwards, 69, of Laguna Hills and construction worker Jeremy Lewis, 26, of Fullerton.

Syed had no criminal history and no history of mental illness or mental disability, said Lt. Paul Garaven, a Tustin police spokesman.