Canoga Park shooting: Gerry Dean Zaragoza, San Fernando Valley crime spree suspect, in custody

ByJohn Gregory, Jory Rand, and staff KABC logo
Friday, July 26, 2019
San Fernando Valley shooting spree suspect in custody
A 26-year-old man is in custody after a shooting spree that spanned four locations in the San Fernando Valley over 12 hours, leaving four people dead and several others wounded by gunfire.

CANOGA PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 26-year-old man is in custody after a shooting spree that spanned four locations in the San Fernando Valley over 12 hours, leaving four people dead and two others wounded.

Gerry Dean Zaragoza is accused of a series of shootings that started around 2 a.m. Thursday with his own family members in Canoga Park and ended with the killing of an apparent stranger on a Metro bus in Lake Balboa.

It all began at about 2 a.m., when Los Angeles police officers responded to the 21900 block of Roscoe Boulevard for reports of multiple people shot.

Officers found a woman and two men -- later identified as the alleged gunman's mother, father and brother -- suffering from gunshot wounds.

The two men were pronounced dead at the scene while the woman was taken to an area hospital and later listed in stable condition, authorities say.

The suspect was later identified as Zaragoza. He was also linked to a double shooting at a gas station in North Hollywood around 2:45 a.m.

Police say he shot and killed a female acquaintance and wounded another man who worked at the station near Vineland Avenue and Vanowen Street.

One witness reported seeing the wounded male gas station employee screaming and apparently trying to find his cellphone to call for help.

"He was probably looking for something on the ground like a phone or something and saying 'Oh my God,'" the witness said.

Shortly before 8 a.m., officers responded to a report of an attempted robbery of a victim at a Bank of America ATM at the intersection of Sherman Way and Topanga Canyon Boulevard. No injuries were reported.

The suspect, who matched Zaragoza's description, fled the scene, authorities said.

Authorities later said Zaragoza was linked to a fourth crime scene in Lake Balboa, where a person was fatally shot on a Metro Orange Line bus located at Victory Boulevard and Woodley Avenue.

A witness said a man walked onto the bus and shot another man in the head. There was no indication of any previous connection between Zaragoza and that victim. Witnesses said there was no interaction or provocation before the shooting.

"He didn't do anything. He was just sitting on the bus," one witness said about the victim.

Zaragoza, who police believe was traveling in a dark-colored Jeep Liberty SUV with paper license plates, was taken into custody near Gault and Canoga in Canoga Park around 2 p.m., the LAPD confirmed.

He put up what was described as a small amount of resistance in his arrest and police used a Taser to subdue him. He was transported from the scene in an ambulance.

He was later booked on multiple felony charges and was being held without bail.

Police recovered a gun believed to be similar to the one used in the shooting, but it has yet to be definitively linked with the crimes.

Investigators tracked him down with the help of cellphone tracking technology as well as tips from family members who said he might frequent that location.

Police said the motives in the shootings are not yet known.

"I would say any time somebody shoots somebody, they're obviously displaying some desperation," said Lt. Kirk Kelly with LAPD's Robbery/Homicide division. "So we're looking into that."