Three people killed in Pasadena shooting; ‘horrific day,’ police chief says

Pasadena Police Department officers mark shell casings at the scene of Saturday's shooting. Three people were killed on North Summit Avenue, two injured. A suspect surrendered to authorities.
(Matt Hartman)

A rifle-wielding gunman shot and killed three people in a residential neighborhood of Pasadena on Saturday and opened fire at police before eventually surrendering, authorities said.

At one point, the gunman chased two people down the 1700 block of North Summit Avenue, fatally shooting one and wounding the other, said Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez.

A neighbor, whom police called a “good Samaritan,” also was shot and died in a driveway.

“It appeared that he approached the house to see what was going on. He turned around and ran and was struck by gunfire,” said Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls.


After the shooting, the gunman barricaded himself inside a home on the street. He called the police department’s communications center and was persuaded to surrender, police said. Police identified him as John Izeal Smith, 35, of Pasadena.

Two men and a woman were killed. Another man and a woman suffered minor to moderate injuries, police said. One was treated at the scene and the other was taken to a local hospital.

The victims, whose identities were not immediately released, varied in age from 20 to 70, police said.

“It is a horrific day for Pasadena,” Sanchez said. “It’s a tragedy.”


Sanchez said the gunman and some of the victims appeared to have had a tenant-landlord relationship. He declined to elaborate, saying that was preliminary information.

Neighbors first reported shots in the area about 4:20 p.m.

As the first two police officers arrived at the street, they saw a body on the ground and one officer went to the person’s aid, police said. The officers suddenly came under heavy fire, pinning the officer who was trying to help the victim behind a patrol car. Additional officers arrived and were able to assist the pinned officer, Qualls said.

The police chief said one patrol car was “peppered” with rounds. None of the officers was hurt.


At some point, Smith called Pasadena police and spoke to a dispatcher, Sanchez said. A professional hostage negotiator also got on the phone with the dispatcher. “They were able to talk him into surrendering,” Sanchez said.

He said the gunman shot the victims using a semiautomatic rifle. Police recovered a rifle and two handguns from the scene.

The afternoon’s violence shook the blue-collar neighborhood. Nearby buildings were pockmarked by bullets. Hours after the shooting, officers continued to knock on doors to talk to neighbors as many residents waiting to return home milled outside a wide area cordoned off by police.

Among them was 16-year-old Enrique Valasquez, who said he was napping when he woke up to gunshots.


“At first, I thought it was fireworks, but there were too many shots, too close together,” he said.

He said it was not unusual to hear gunshots in the area.

Valasquez stood across the street from the scene’s yellow crime tape. Nearby, about a dozen people gathered near the home where the shooting occurred, crying and holding one another.

“It’s been crazy out here,” Valasquez said.


Before Saturday, there had been two homicides in Pasadena in 2014, according to The Times’ Homicide Report.

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