LOS ANGELES (AP) — A couple driving around in a stolen car took turns randomly shooting at 14 people in California last weekend, killing a man and wounding three other people, before they were found shot and wounded hours later in a motel room, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said Thursday.
Alejandro Lazo, 21, and Reyna Gomez, 26, were each charged with murder, attempted murder and carjacking in connection with Saturday’s shooting rampage that lasted nearly three hours, prosecutors said. They were each being held on $16 million bail and both remained hospitalized Thursday, authorities said. It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys who could comment on the allegations.
Investigators said Lazo and Gomez were driving in a stolen car when they first shot at a man Saturday afternoon in Whittier, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
About an hour later, a group of people, including Lazo and Gomez, carjacked a man at gunpoint and stole his Nissan Pathfinder but only Lazo and Gomez hopped into the SUV, sheriff’s investigators said. With Lazo behind the wheel and Gomez seated next to him, the two took turns randomly shooting at other drivers and pedestrians — striking a man in the groin and another in the arm — as they traversed three nearby towns, detectives said.
Detectives said the couple pulled up alongside 44-year-old Jose Ricardo Sahagun at a stop sign and opened fire on his car, striking him multiple times, said sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner. Sahagun, who family members described as a teacher and father of two young boys, died at the scene.
“Not only was he only a wonderful man, he was about justice and he was about providing not only for his children but for the community,” his sister Maria del Rosario Sahagun said.
Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shooting rampage but said it appeared the victims were all chosen at random, Bergner said.
“These were senseless acts of violence, acts committed on innocent people who were just enjoying the day and running errands,” he said.
Detectives found the stolen SUV abandoned Saturday afternoon at a park. Investigators believe the suspects hopped into a stolen car and drove to a motel in Whittier.
About four hours after Sahagun was killed, police responded to a 911 call at the motel and found both Lazo and Gomez suffering from non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper said there was “some type of contact with other individuals” at the motel and Lazo and Gomez were shot. Investigators are now trying to determine who shot the couple and are searching for several other suspects, Bergner said.
Both Lazo and Gomez were admitted gang members, Bergner said, but he refused to disclose their gang affiliation. They had each served time in state prison and were both released in November, he said.