Two dead in string of 7-Eleven robberies in southern CA
Police suspect that at least some in a series of pre-dawn robberies at 7-Eleven stores in Southern California that left two dead and others wounded are linked, and the timing no accident.
It was not lost on authorities that the robberies were perpetrated on Monday, 7/11, the 95th birthday of the worldwide convenience store chain.
It was supposed to be a fun-filled National Slurpee Day, when the slushy drinks are given out for free, and snacks are $1.
Six 7-Eleven stores were hit, and police on Monday were looking for the same suspect in at least three of the robberies. Police also suspect the same person’s involvement in the fourth.
It started in Ontario, Calif., just after midnight, when an armed man entered the store and stole an unspecified amount of money, Ontario Police Corporal Emily Hernandez told The Associated Press.
About 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds, the man wore a dark shirt and sweatshirt. No one was injured, KTTV-TV reported.
Not long after, at about 12:40 a.m., a 7-Eleven in Upland, Calif., was robbed of $500 and some drinks, police told KTTV. No one was injured.
Then just before 2 a.m., an armed robbery was reported at a Riverside, Calif., 7-Eleven. A customer shot in the head remained in grave condition, Riverside police said in a statement in which they released a photo of the suspect.
The night took an even more tragic turn at 3:23 a.m. at a 7-Eleven in Santa Ana, where a man was found dead of a gunshot wound to his upper torso in the parking lot, police told KTTV. He was identified as Matthew Rule, 24.
At 4:18 a.m., a male clerk at the Brea 7-Eleven was shot dead in an armed robbery, about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, police there said.
At 4:55 a.m.. police in La Habra investigated the nonfatal shooting of two people outside a 7-Eleven there, when an employee and a man sitting in his car outside the store were shot. Both were taken to the hospital and expected to survive, KTTV said. A cash register was found on the store floor, police told KTTV.
Police suspect the three gun-related robberies could be related, with a possible link to a fourth. All were similar distances from Los Angeles and had all the hallmarks of a targeted run, police from the various towns said.
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Meanwhile, communities were in mourning.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Brea Police Department, we want to send our deepest condolences to the family of the victim who lost their life during today’s tragic incidents,” the Brea Police Department said in a statement.
Investigators were still seeking answers as to what prompted the violence in Ontario, Upland, Riverside, Santa Ana, Brea and La Habra.
“I think the only person to answer that would be the suspect,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan Railsback told AP, adding that the date’s significance had to mean something. “There’s no way it can be a coincidence of it being 7-Eleven, July 11.”
A company spokesperson told the Daily News that 7-Eleven was working with authorities, and sent condolences to the bereaved families.
“Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement.”
With News Wire Services