Gunman in Azusa rampage was "binging on cocaine," officials say

ByRob Hayes and staff KABC logo
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
2 dead, including gunman, 2 others injured in Azusa shooting, authorities say
Two men were dead, including a gunman, and two women were hospitalized Tuesday afternoon after police responded to an initial shooting in Azusa exchanged gunfire with the suspect, authorities said.

AZUSA, Calif. (KABC) -- A man who was "binging on cocaine" opened fire on random passersby in Azusa and ambushed police officers before he was killed in a gun battle Tuesday, officials said.

The gunman, identified as a 45-year-old resident of Azusa with a military background, killed a 77-year-old man and wounded two women, ages 59 and 65, who happened to be in the neighborhood when the shooting rampage began, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.

"His family says he starts binging on cocaine, kind of gets a little crazy and they can't control him," Corina said. "His wife and kids left last night to get away from him because he was getting out of control."

The man's binge continued Tuesday, Corina said. He also is a "gun fanatic" with a collection of firearms.

He came out of his home Tuesday afternoon and started shooting randomly at people on the street and in cars driving by, Corina said. One women was shot as she drove by in a van, which she crashed in front of the house. He then shot two other people on the street.

Shortly after 2 p.m., police were called to the scene on a report of shots fired in the 500 block of Fourth Street.

They found multiple victims "down," at the scene said Capt. Steven Hunt, acting chief of the Azusa Police Department.

The suspect had been hiding as the officers were attending to the victims. He then started shooting at them with an assault rifle and they returned fire, killing him, Corina said.

The officers were not injured. The shootout involved five officers from Azusa and one from Irwindale.

A massive law enforcement response followed, including SWAT teams and sheriff's helicopters, and the victims and the pinned-down officers were extracted to safety before it was confirmed the suspect had died at the scene.

Three wounded patients were transported from the scene, Corina said, and one, a 77-year-old man, died in an ambulance while en route to a hospital.

The two female survivors were listed in critical condition, Corina said.

Corina described initial reports of a female shooter as "rumors flying around" and "misinformation going out."

"So far we have found no evidence of a female or anybody else assisting this person," the lieutenant said, referring to the deceased shooter. "But we are going ahead and following up on any information we're given."

The location was near Memorial Park, Mountain View Elementary School and Slauson Middle School, all of which were placed on lockdown. No one at the schools was hurt, according to the Azusa Unified School District. The campuses and the park were evacuated by police, Hunt said.

Two nearby polling stations - at Memorial Park and Dalton Elementary School - were initially closed in the aftermath of the incident, county Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan said on Twitter. The polling station at Dalton Elementary was later reopened.

It was not certain if one or more of the victims was in the neighborhood to cast votes, as the victims were not in condition to be interviewed by officers, Corina said.