Authorities Wednesday released the name of a Los Angeles double murder suspect who died in a shootout with police in Fullerton after a chase and standoff.
Carlos Lopez, 50, of Los Angeles died at the scene of the shootout that occurred about 5 a.m. Tuesday on the westbound Riverside (91) Freeway near Raymond Avenue. Officers in police vehicles had blocked in the suspect’s white Jeep Cherokee around an hour earlier.
Lopez was suspected of shooting three men, two fatally, early Tuesday morning, according to Lt. Raul Jovel of the Los Angeles Police Department.
“These appear to be random acts of violence … we have no idea what precipitated this,” Jovel said at a news conference near where the pursuit ended. “We’ll be going back to the suspect’s home, talking to family members, trying to figure out what led to these acts of violence.”
The sequence of events began about 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a 43-year-old man came under fire while in his vehicle in the downtown Los Angeles area. The man, who suffered a bullet graze wound to the head, gave authorities a description of the suspect’s vehicle, Jovel said.
About 25 minutes later, 24-year-old Alexis Carbajal was shot and killed while sitting in his blue Mustang at Figueroa and 28th streets, near the University of Southern California, according to police. Family members told reporters at the scene that Carbajal, a newlywed, was in a drive-thru line at Starbucks with his wife, who escaped injury, when the suspect rammed his car and then opened fire.
A GoFundMe account established to help Carbajal’s family had raised nearly $20,000 as of late Wednesday morning. The family held a vigil at the shooting site Tuesday night and reportedly planned to do so again Wednesday evening.
“He was only 24 years old and left behind his mother, sisters, and wife,” the GoFundMe page reads. “He didn’t deserve this. He was a gentle soul who always put others before himself. He could light up any room and was such a caring person.
“The funds will go to his funeral services as this was an unfortunate tragic event for our family. We appreciate all your help and support during this hard time. We are grateful for everyone who has reached out and for all your love and support.”
About 15 minutes after Carbajal was shot, an Uber driver behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade was fatally wounded near Seventh and Figueroa streets. Mingzhi Zhu, 42, of South Pasadena was stopped at a red light when he was targeted.
“The senseless acts of violence that took the lives of two innocent people, including Mr. Mingzhi Zhu who was on his way to pick up a rider, is heartbreaking,” Uber said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with those who lost their lives and their families.”
A GoFundMe account established to help Zhu’s family had raised nearly $69,000 by late Wednesday morning. According to the fundraising page, Zhu was the sole financial provider for his family and is survived by his wife, an 8-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Zhu, who arrived from China five years ago, “was a hard-working, intelligent, kind, gentle, and deeply loving person,” the fundraising page description reads. “His family is at a loss without him. His family lovingly recalled the time an elderly passenger left $400 in the backseat of his Uber and Mingzhi made sure to reach out to him immediately and get that money returned. He was an honest man who cared for other people and loved his family above all else.”
In the aftermath of the three shootings, “officers quickly discovered that it was the same shooting suspect description — a male in a white Cherokee … (and) that information was immediately put out … to all patrol units,” Jovel said.
Patrolling officers saw the vehicle and began chasing it about 1:45 a.m., he said.
The pursuit, often at slow speeds, traveled along the Pomona (60) and Orange (57) freeways before coming to an end about 4 a.m. on the westbound 91 Freeway at the Raymond Avenue overcrossing, where officers deployed spike strips, damaging the SUV’s tires and forcing it to stop.
Two law enforcement vehicles boxed in the suspect’s SUV, and a standoff ensued, Jovel said.
“SWAT officers arrived, and they initiated the normal procedures to negotiate with the suspect,” Jovel said. “They attempted to talk to him several times. At one point, they tried to have the suspect talk to a family member. That was unsuccessful …”
Jovel said officers had used information from the SUV’s license plate, and went to the home of the registered owner, where a family member of the suspect was contacted, leading to an effort by police to have the relative talk to Lopez.
“At one point, the suspect fired at the officers, (which) resulted in an officer-involved shooting,” Jovel said. “The suspect was hit by gunfire and was pronounced dead at scene by the local fire department.”
The 91 Freeway through Fullerton was closed in both directions for hours while an investigation was conducted. The eastbound lanes were reopened about 9 a.m. Tuesday, and the westbound lanes reopened about six hours later.