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Mass shooting stuns quiet Orange neighborhood: ‘I couldn’t believe it’

Shooting in Orange
Area residents Ray Rodriguez and his wife, Jennifer, Rodriguez, 39, look on as police investigate shooting in Orange that left four dead.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The crack of gunfire that left four people dead and one wounded in a mass shooting at an office complex in Orange stunned residents and officials.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Nathan Zachary, 18, who raced out to the scene near his apartment with his father. He said the north Orange neighborhood is “a safe, really safe area.”

He and his father stood curbside in flannel pajamas, trying to track the movement of the many police officers milling about.

“Hard to sleep,” Zachary said, “unless you know what’s going on.”

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Camilo Akly, 28, couldn’t pick up his younger brother, who was hanging out with a buddy in a home facing the crime scene.

Investigators are working to determine the motive for a mass shooting inside an Orange business complex that left four people dead.

After walking several blocks to reach his sibling, he then saw “one by one by one of the police cars pulling up” followed by firefighters. He paused to try and make sense of the situation.

“You think that nothing could be going on during your evening, and all of a sudden, it changes really fast,” he said. “So much to be careful of these days.”

Joe Velasco, 46, rode his bike from his home in Anaheim to the edge of the police tape after he heard about the shooting on Nextdoor. He rubbed his face as he watched officers comb through the scene.

Flashing lights from police cars lit up the normally darkened street. “What a mess,” he said.

“I hope it’s not race-related or anything like that. It’s just terrible. I heard a kid died in there. That just makes it so much worse.”

More neighbors, finished with dishwashing after dinner, spilled onto the sidewalk to videotape the scene and posted footage on Facebook. The shooting occurred on a stretch of Lincoln Avenue with businesses on one side and a row of large apartment complexes on the other.

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Few details about the shooting were immediately available. Officials said one of those killed was a child. The condition of the injured person was unknown. The gunman was injured and taken to a hospital.

Lt. Jennifer Amat, a spokeswoman for the Orange Police Department, said the city had not seen this kind of violence since 1997, when a mass shooting occurred at a Caltrans maintenance yard in the city. Five people were killed and at least two others wounded, including a police officer, when a former state employee wielding an assault rifle opened fire there.

That gunman had been recently dismissed from the job and went to his former workplace with an AK-47 assault weapon. He was killed in a shootout with police at a nearby street corner.

The motive for Wednesday’s shooting was unclear.

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Uvaldo Madrigal of Lincoln Body and Paint, an auto shop that sits next to the building where Wednesday’s shooting happened, said he was in his office when he heard popping sounds.

“They sounded very low, so I didn’t think they were gunshots,” the 53-year-old said.

Shortly after Madrigal said he heard about 10 gunshots followed by silence. When he looked outside he saw about five police cars in the middle of Lincoln Avenue and officers with their weapons drawn.

He said he rushed to the back and told an employee to get inside because something had happened. It was several minutes later when police told him and his employee that they needed to leave the area.

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As they did, Madrigal said he saw two people on stretchers being place in an ambulance and taken to a hospital

“I don’t know what condition they were in,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened around here.”

Madrigal said the shooting sounded like it happened indoors. He said even when police started shooting it sounded the same.

“Normally when you hear gunshots out in the open they’re louder,” he said. “The gunshots just sounded lower, they sounded different.”


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