TUSTIN, Calif. -- A 20-year-old part-time college student was responsible for an hourlong early-morning shooting and carjacking rampage in Orange County on Tuesday that left four dead, including the gunman, the police said.
The man, Ali Syed, began shooting around 4:45 a.m. at the home where he lived with his parents in Ladera Ranch, officials said. He fired multiple times at a young woman in the house, killing her, and fled in his parents' sport utility vehicle, they said.
Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said the relationship between Mr. Syed and the victim, who was identified only as a woman in her 20s, had not been determined, nor was Mr. Syed's motive in the killing clear.
But after leaving his parents' home, Mr. Syed dispensed death and mercy with a baffling randomness, executing some victims with his shotgun while sparing others.
With his parents' S.U.V. damaged and one tire flat, Mr. Syed parked outside a Denny's restaurant, where a man in another car noticed Mr. Syed loading his shotgun, according to Chief Scott Jordan of the Tustin Police Department.
As the man drove through the parking lot to escape, the police said, Mr. Syed chased him on foot, shooting at the back of the car and hitting him in the back of the head. The man was later taken to a hospital, where his condition was not released.
Mr. Syed then approached another man, who was filling up at a nearby gas station. Chief Jordan said Mr. Syed told the man: "I killed somebody. Today is my last day. I don't want to hurt you. Give me your keys." The man complied, and Mr. Syed fled back onto the highway in the man's pickup truck.
On State Route 55, a north-south freeway, he pulled over on the shoulder and fired at passing cars, hitting at least three vehicles and wounding one driver.
He left the freeway in nearby Santa Ana, where he got out of the truck and approached the driver of a BMW at a stop sign, carrying what witnesses said appeared to be a shotgun, according to the Santa Ana police. Mr. Syed ordered the driver out of the BMW, walked him to the curb with his hands behind his head and killed him, shooting multiple times in the back and head.
Mr. Syed drove the victim's BMW back to Tustin, where he approached an employee at a construction site, and killed him on the spot, Chief Jordan said. As one of the victim's co-workers approached, Mr. Syed told him to run. He shot the man in the arm as he did, took his vehicle and fled to the city of Orange, where the California Highway Patrol caught sight of Mr. Syed around 5:45 a.m.
Before any chase could ensue, though, Chief Jordan said, Mr. Syed left the freeway, hopped out of the car while it was still moving, placed the shotgun to his head and killed himself.
The shotgun, which was recovered from the scene, was registered to someone at the address in Ladera Ranch where Mr. Syed lived, said Mr. Amormino, the Sheriff's Department spokesman, saying Mr. Syed had no prior criminal record.
At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement officials tried to give assurances that the threat had passed. Interim Chief Carlos Rojas of the Santa Ana police said it was "senseless violence that hit our community today," but added, "Mr. Syed is no longer a danger to anyone in Orange County."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.