Investigators have abandoned the theory that the 20-year-old "loner" who went on a fatal shooting rampage as he drove through the heart of Orange County last month had somehow lured his final victim to a construction site parking lot where he was shot and killed.
Detectives in Tustin said that based on witness accounts, they had believed there was some connection between Ali Syed and Jeremy Lewis, a 26-year-old plumber who was the last of three people authorities say Syed killed Feb. 19.
But after checking phone records, police said Lewis' death appears to have been "a random act of violence."
The early morning shootings and carjackings began in a Ladera Ranch condominium, where Syed, a part-time college student, lived with his parents and where authorities found the body of 20-year-old Courtney Aoki.
Syed later pulled a man from a vehicle in Tustin and shot him "execution-style," authorities said, and then gunned down Lewis.
The violence ended a short time later when Syed got out of the stolen truck he was driving and shot himself to death with a shotgun.
Witnesses told investigators that Lewis received a phone call before the shooting and reportedly said, "I'll be there in a minute."
Lewis, who was sitting in his car outside work, pulled out of the employee parking lot and drove to another lot nearby at a construction site. That led authorities to suspect that Syed was targeting Lewis and drawing him out.
In an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for phone records, Det. Colton Kirwan wrote that based on those witness accounts, Syed "was specifically trying to locate Jeremy Lewis."
The affidavit, based on what witnesses told investigators, lays out the following scenario:
Syed commanded Lewis to "come out," pointing a shotgun at him. Lewis turned off his car engine and stepped out.
But Syed ordered him back into the car and told him to restart the engine. Lewis complied.
Once Lewis got out of the vehicle the second time, Syed told him to "go away." Lewis started to back away from Syed, and turned to run.
He made it about 15 feet before he was hit by gunfire. Limping, Lewis made it a few feet farther before Syed fired again. Lewis fell to the ground.
Syed tried to drive away in Lewis' car, but apparently struggled to operate the vehicle.
A bystander called for the construction site foreman, Shane Caporaso, who tried to talk with Syed. Syed told Caporaso to "go away" and shot at him two times.
Syed got into a work truck and sped away.