Gang member kills 4 in random Southern California stabbings, police say
GARDEN GROVE, Orange County — The man who killed four people and wounded two others in random stabbings across two Southern California cities is a gang member with a violent criminal record who had served time in prison, authorities said Thursday.
Zachary Castaneda “could have injured or killed many other people” had he not been arrested Wednesday while carrying out attacks and robberies during the two-hour wave of violence that began in Garden Grove, the city’s Police Chief Tom DaRe said.
It wasn’t immediately known if Castaneda, 33, had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
Castaneda was taken into custody when he walked out of a convenience store in the neighboring city of Santa Ana, dropping a knife and a gun he had taken from a security guard he had just killed, police said. The suspect was covered in blood, DaRe said.
Castaneda was kept in restraints as detectives tried to interview him, the chief said at a press conference.
“He remained violent with us through the night,” DaRe said. “He never told us why he did this.”
Castaneda has a conviction for possession of meth for sale while armed with an assault rifle, DaRe said. Investigators were still putting together his entire criminal history, he said. Officials didn’t specify what crimes sent Castaneda to prison or when he was released.
The violence appeared to be random and the only known motive seem to be “robbery, hate, homicide,” Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney told reporters.
Whitney said police had previously gone to Castaneda’s Garden Grove apartment to deal with a child custody issue. The suspect’s mother had been living with him and had once asked police how she could evict her son, he said.
The attacker and four of the victims were described as Hispanic, while two victims were described as white, police said in a statement. Initially, all had been described as Hispanic. There was no indication this was a hate crime, DaRe said.
The two people who were wounded were expected to survive.
Police said surveillance cameras caught some of the carnage.
“We have video showing him attacking these people and conducting these murders,” Whitney said.
The brutal and puzzling attack came just days after mass shootings in Gilroy, Texas and Ohio left 34 people dead and stunned the nation.
Amy Taxin is an Associated Press writer.