LOS ANGELES — Two people were arrested Friday in a series of shootings and robberies at 7-Eleven stores in Southern California that left two people dead and three others wounded, authorities said.
“This was a reign of terror,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at a news conference Friday.
Malike Patt, 20, and Jason Payne, 44, were arrested in Los Angeles in the spree that occurred over five hours Monday morning in San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside counties, police said.
Two people were killed — Matthew Hirsch, 40, an employee at a Brea 7-Eleven, and Matthew Rule, 24, who was shot outside a Santa Ana store, police said.
Santa Ana police called Patt the “primary suspect” and believe he is the masked man seen in a surveillance video in one of the robberies.
Investigators think there is a connection between Patt and Payne, but “exactly what they did and when, that will all continue to come together,” Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin said.
Patt was being held without bond, officials said. Payne was injured during the arrest and being treated, Valentin said. He said the injury was not from a shooting but“minor use of force,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if either man had an attorney who could speak on their behalf. Charges have not yet been filed.
A killing that occurred in Los Angeles on July 9 is also believed to be linked, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said.
“We believe there are a number of crimes throughout the Los Angeles region that will also be linked back to this suspect,” Hamilton said.
The robbery and shootings Monday — July 11, or 7/11 — happened the same day the company was giving away free Slurpees.
The violence prompted 7-Eleven to ask all Los Angeles-area stores to close Monday night. The corporation also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
From just after midnight to just before 5 a.m. Monday, there were seven armed robberies in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. Most involved 7-Elevens but one Yum Yum Donuts was also robbed, police said.
Rule was found fatally shot outside a 7-Eleven in Santa Ana at 3: 23 a.m., police have said. Valentin said the gunman was looking to rob someone else, and “this innocent victim stepped in and tried to redirect the suspect.”
Hirsch was fatally shot at 4: 18 a.m. in Brea, around 10 miles north of Santa Ana, police said.
Two people were also shot and wounded in a robbery in La Habra, a city directly west of Brea, shortly before 5 a.m., according to officials.
Officials did not say what exactly led them to identify Patt and Payne.
Spitzer, the district attorney, said that charges would be evaluated, and with the scope of potential crimes in Los Angeles “we need to connect a lot of dots.”
He said he plans to file murder counts for the two slayings as soon as Monday.
Hirsch’s father, James Hirsch, said Monday that he was speechless about news of the arrest and had been making arrangements for his son, NBC Los Angeles reported.
“I just hope that he gets some justice done, and not get leniency,” James Hirsch said.