TUSTIN, Calif. – A woman who was the first of three people killed in a gunman’s rampage has been identified, but her relationship to the shooter – a videogame-playing loner – remained unknown Wednesday, authorities said.
Courtney Aoki, 20, of Buena Park was shot multiple times early Tuesday in the home that gunman Ali Syed, 20, shared with his parents, said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.
But beyond that, authorities know little about her, including how she got there, her occupation, and how she knew Syed, Amormino said.
Syed, a part-time community college student who ultimately committed suicide, was a loner and a gamer, Amormino said.
He spent a lot of time alone in his room playing video games, he said.
A 12-gauge shotgun used in the killings belonged to Syed and was bought by his father, he said.
The rampage began before dawn Tuesday at the home in Ladera Ranch and ended 25 miles to the north during the early morning rush hour, police said.
Syed killed two more people in carjackings, injured at least three more, and shot up cars zooming down a busy freeway interchange before committing suicide with his shotgun as police closed in, authorities said.
At a stop sign, the shooter forced commuter Melvin Edwards out of his BMW, marched him to a curb and shot him three times from behind as shocked witnesses looked on, Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan said.
The motive for the shootings remained unclear.
Syed had no criminal history and no history of mental illness or mental disability, said Lt. Paul Garaven, a Tustin police spokesman.
An autopsy will determine whether Syed had any drugs in his system, but Amormino said no illegal drugs were found in the house and there were no signs he was using illegal substances.
His parents did not recognize the woman who was shot to death in the Ladera Ranch home they shared with their son, he said.
Syed’s parents rushed outside and called police at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday after hearing the gunshots, but Syed had already sped off in his parents’ black SUV.
From Ladera Ranch, the gunman headed north and pulled off Interstate 5 in Tustin, about 20 miles away, with a flat tire, police said.
In nearby Santa Ana, he approached Edwards, of Laguna Hills, and shot him three times, including in the back of the head and the back, Jordan said.
Syed took Edwards’ BMW and next popped up at the Micro Center, a Tustin business, where he shot and killed construction worker Jeremy Lewis, 26, of Fullerton. Lewis’ co-worker rushed to intervene and was shot in the arm, Jordan said.
Syed took the second worker’s truck and fled to Orange, this time with California Highway Patrol officers in pursuit. He jumped from the moving utility truck about five miles away and shot himself, Jordan said.
There really wasn’t a confrontation at the very end. It happened so quickly.