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San Fernando Valley shooting rampage started out personal, then turned random, LAPD says

One day after a shooting rampage in the San Fernando Valley left four dead and two injured, authorities are trying to sort out what prompted the string of violence.

Police say Gerry Dean Zaragoza, 26, first shot his father, mother and brother at their home in Canoga Park in the middle of the night, then shot a woman he reportedly knew a few miles away.

For the record:
10:38 AM, Jul. 26, 2019 An earlier version of this article and an accompanying graphic said seven people were shot across the Valley on Thursday. Six people were shot, four of them fatally.

After that, the rampage appears to have turned random, authorities said.

“He didn’t even talk to his last victim,” said Capt. Billy Hayes, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “It doesn’t look like there was any interaction between them.”

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The violence brought a huge police presence to the Valley and left residents shaken.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher, who oversees detectives, said authorities have not identified a motive in the shootings.

“Getting the suspect into custody was the priority,” he said, adding that detectives will now focus on building a case to submit to prosecutors.

Hayes said officials are still unclear on what set off Zaragoza’s alleged rampage, apart from obvious anger issues with his family.

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He said detectives in the last 24 hours have served numerous search warrants to secure video surveillance related to the deadly attacks as they seek murder charges against Zaragoza.

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Here’s what’s known about the attacks:

1st shooting: 2 a.m.

Authorities say Zaragoza attacked his family inside their apartment in the 21900 block of Roscoe Boulevard in Canoga Park. His 56-year-old father, Carlos I. Zaragoza, and 33-year-old brother, Carlos Pierre Zaragoza, were fatally shot. His mother suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to a hospital in stable condition, police said.

Authorities are not sure why he opened fire on his family.

2nd shooting: 2:45 a.m.

After leaving his family’s home, police say Zaragoza opened fire outside a Shell gas station in the 6700 block of Vineland Avenue in North Hollywood. When police arrived, they found a man and a woman with gunshot wounds. The woman, identified as Azucena Lepe, 45, died at a hospital. The man remains in critical condition.

Police say Zaragoza knew the woman who was shot, but authorities have not determined the specifics of their relationship, LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Rodriguez said. A family member told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that Zaragoza once dated the woman and that he became obsessed with her after she broke off the relationship.

3rd attack, a robbery attempt: 7:45 a.m.

Police say a person matching Zaragoza’s description tried to rob a man outside a Bank of America branch at Sherman Way and Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park. Authorities don’t know whether there was any personal connection between the robbery suspect and the victim.

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4th shooting: 1 p.m.

Authorities say Zaragoza opened fire inside an Orange Line bus at Victory Boulevard and Woodley Avenue in Van Nuys, killing a man.

That attack appears to be random, police say.

5th event, the takedown: 2:30 p.m.

Two plainclothes officers from the LAPD spotted Zaragoza walking on Canoga Avenue near Gault Street in Canoga Park and quickly moved in to arrest him, using a Taser to subdue him.


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