In a Thursday morning press conference, on April 1, Orange Police Lt. Jennifer Amat identified the suspect that shot and killed a child and three others in Orange on Wednesday, March 31 as a 44-year-old male, with a last known residence of Fullerton.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the suspect is eligible for the death penalty, after it appears the suspect may have deliberately locked both the front and back gates to the location before shooting and killing four people, including a child, in the city of Orange.
“I want to make something very, very clear, [the suspect] is eligible for the death penalty – this is a special circumstances case, there were multiple victims,” Spitzer said. “And we are now presently looking whether his locking of the front and the back gates constituted a ‘lying in wait’ – which would also be eligible for death.”
Spitzer described a horrific chain of events that occurred just before 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, prior to law enforcement arriving at the scene.
“It appears that a little boy died in his mother’s arms, as she was trying to save him, during this horrific massacre,” Spitzer said. “Our hearts today go out to the victims, and I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do everything in our power to get justice.”
Spitzer said officers engaged with the suspect from outside the gates before bolt cutters could be used to cut the locks on the rod iron gates.
“They arrived at this scene apparently to find the front and the back rod iron gates locked and secured, which meant that they were not able to get into the courtyard premises, or the locations in order to try and secure and try to take care of the suspect,” Spitzer said. “And we know shots had been fired before their arrival. We know the suspect had been wounded as well.”
He continued: “In the meantime, horrific rampage was going on in offices and people were dying and or were shot.”
The district attorney’s office is now conducting a set of investigations, the officer involved shooting, which occurred prior to the bolt cutters being used to open the gates, for “transparency and objectivity.”
The second investigation is a criminal investigation into the shooting.
“The other reason we’re here, is because of the criminal investigation of the shooting itself – by this alleged suspect – through the night my prosecutors were working on search warrants.”
As more details are released, Spitzer added that the Orange shooting was not random, and that the suspect had a relationship with all the victims.
“This was not random – the randomness of violence could obviously really scare an entire community,” Spitzer admitted. “But it appears that … the victims were known – they were all known to each other. It is a horrible, horrible tragedy that [the suspect] made a decision to use deadly force to deal with issues he was dealing with. But he will suffer and face the consequences.”
Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, April 1, Spitzer explained that he has reviewed more than 20 different murder cases for death penalty eligibility, in the last two years.
Spitzer added he would not be rushed in his determination of this case.
“I won’t be rushed,” Spitzer said. “The suspect deserves all due consideration, asking a jury to hand down the verdict of death is the most serious consequence we ask – and it’s the only consequence where the jury makes the decision, as opposed to a judge. We want to have all the facts in place, before we make that very, very important decision is made.”
Officers responded to a call for “shots fired” and arrived to active gunshots at 202 W. Lincoln Avenue.
“The officers did engage with the suspect and an officer involved shooting did occur,” Amat said. “At the scene we do have four deceased, one of which is a child.”
The suspect was put in custody and transported to a local hospital and the area was “stabilized” at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.