The man who shot three people in an Azusa neighborhood near a polling place yesterday, fatally injuring one, was crazed on cocaine and aiming randomly at passers-by, authorities say.
"Detectives have learned that the suspect was on a cocaine binge," according to a statement from Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputy Kelvin Moody. "The suspect stepped outside his residence and began shooting at cars. The suspect shot one female victim, who was driving a van, which later crashed. The suspect walked up to a neighbor and shot him. The suspect shot another female victim who was outside down the street."
At a news conference last night, authorities said the shooter was firing indiscriminately with an assault-type rifle.
Paramedics were dispatched to the shooting call at West Fourth Street and North Orange Avenue at 2:05 p.m. Tuesday, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina said. One victim was dead on arrival; two others were airlifted to a nearby trauma center; and one other victim was taken to a hospital via ambulance, he said.
The suspected shooter, found dead in a doorway, has not been identified, authorities said. Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter said the decedent's family had yet to be notified, so his ID could not be released. Sheriff's officials said the suspect was 45.
The man allegedly shot at arriving cops, and they returned fire, Moody said. "Once the officers arrived on scene and started tending to the victims, they did receive gunfire," Azusa police chief Steve Hunt told reporters yesterday.
Sheriff's officials today said it was cops' gunfire that killed the shooter.
"A search of the suspect’s residence revealed that the suspect was in possession of a handgun, assault rifle, shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition," according to Moody.
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The male neighbor who was fatally shot was identified by Winter as 77-year-old Francis William Varney of Azusa. The women who were struck by gunfire, described as a 65-year-old and a 59-year-old, were hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said. Their names were not revealed.
The motive for the attack is unknown. It was reported that one of the victims might have been walking to or from the polling place at nearby Memorial Park. That polling station and one other were temporarily placed on lockdown yesterday as a precaution.
The Sheriff's Department has taken over the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.