LOS ANGELES — Two people were killed and three wounded in robberies before dawn Monday at six 7-Eleven stores in Southern California and authorities said they were seeking the same lone gunman in at least three of the crimes.
This string of violence took place within five hours of 7/11 (7th anniversary of national 7-Eleven) On Monday, the store gave away free Slurpees to celebrate its 95th birthday.
It wasn’t immediately clear to investigators what prompted the violence in the cities of Ontario, Upland, Riverside, Santa Ana, Brea and La Habra.
“I think the only person to answer that would be the suspect,” said Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesperson for the Riverside Police Department.
He said that the date wasn’t an accident.
“There’s no way it can be a coincidence of it being 7-Eleven, July 11,” Railsback said.
7-Eleven Inc. stated that they were gathering information to assist police. “Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones,” the statement said.
At midnight, the first robbery took place in Ontario (about 35 miles (56 km) east Los Angeles).
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The masked man brandished a handgun at the store’s employee and demanded money, according to Ontario Cpl. Emily Hernandez. The clerk did not sustain any injuries and he didn’t fire any shots. Investigators did not know what the theft was, or if it was even possible to identify.
A second robbery occurred in Upland about 45 minutes later. This was just 5-8 miles from the Ontario store.
The suspect approached the store clerk with a few items, “some drinks and things,” and brandished a semi-automatic handgun, Upland Sgt. Jake Kirk stated. Jake Kirk said that the man took all of the goods and $400 to $500 worth cash before fleeing. The man fled without firing a shot.
Upland police released surveillance photos showing a man in a black sweatshirt and a hooded masked body. The front of the sweatshirt featured white lettering and green leaves.
Santa Ana, Santa Ana, and La Habra police have all stated that they suspect they are looking for the same suspect. Riverside, Ontario, Upland, and Riverside officials have yet to make this determination, though they indicated they knew of other crimes committed at 7-Eleven locations.
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“It could potentially be the same person but we’re not confirming that at this time,” Kirk said.
Railsback stated that a gunman pulled out a gun, took the 7-Eleven clerk hostage, and then opened fire on the customer. This happened about an hour after Upland’s robbery. According to police, the clerk allegedly handed cash at the register. The shooter was in critical condition.
“It doesn’t appear to be any reason that the suspect shot the customer,” Railsback said. “It sounds like the clerk gave him whatever he asked for.”
Railsback explained that criminals are often aware of the fact convenience stores robberies seldom yield large amounts, especially at night.
“If you go hit a liquor store or a 7-Eleven or a fast food place, you’re not going to get a lot of cash out of it,” he said. “It’s kind of odd that they would do this.”
According to authorities, another shooting happened at 3:20 am. It was about 24 miles (39km) from Santa Ana.
This image is taken from the video of a 7 Eleven in Upland. It shows a suspect police want to find in relation to shootings at 7-Eleven stores on July 11, 2022.
Upland Police Department via AP
Santa Ana Sgt. Santa Ana said that officers responding to the call reported gunfire. They found a dead man in the parking lot of 7-Eleven with an injury to his upper body. Maria Lopez
“At this moment, we don’t believe he was an employee,” Lopez said of the victim. “We don’t really know yet what he was doing there in a parking lot, if he was a potential customer or just walking by.”
Surveillance video shows the suspect dropping items—believed to be the victim’s belongings—as he fled, Lopez said.
Brea Police Capt. Phil Rodriguez said that a 7-Eleven worker in Brea was gunned down and killed about 40 minutes later. Phil Rodriguez said.
Within an hour, La Habra officers were dispatched to investigate a 7-11 robbery. According to Sgt. Sumner Bohee.
Authorities have not disclosed the victims’ conditions.
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