Police have identified the suspect arrested in the shooting deaths of two people in an apparently random rampage in the Southern California city of Banning.
James Paul Diaz, 34, of Hemet, was arrested and booked for investigation of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and other charges stemming from Saturday’s shooting spree, police said in a statement.
Police said Saturday that the shooting suspect was detained during a traffic stop by Beaumont police after he was reported at 12:22 p.m.to be knocking on doors in a Beaumont neighborhood, asking if anyone had seen his children.
The woman, who Pelegrin said had two young grandchildren in the back seat, reportedly told Banning police the shots came from a white SUV. The name of other victims have not been released.”This is something I don’t believe would happen in Banning”, said Jose Espinoza, 58, who owns a local salon.
Diaz said detectives were trying to determine if a body found in a pickup truck that crashed into a wall is linked to the crime spree.
Diaz said the man’s questions about his children anxious police who went to his home in a nearby town to check on his family. Video at the scene captured footage of a male subject driving a white SUV as described in the earlier incidents, according to police.
Seven minutes later, another car-to-car shooting was reported at the corner of Nicolet Street and San Gorgonio Avenue. Diaz allegedly assaulted 78-year-old Major Maxwell with his fists and an unknown blunt instrument as he sat inside his parked vehicle.
During the chaos of the attacks, police asked parent volunteers at the nearby Nicolet Middle School’s youth program to conduct an informal lockdown of the 45 students inside, Diaz said. She wounded by broken glass shards. Shortly after, more mayhem, as a man was beaten up by a suspect matching Diaz’s description, in a convenience store parking lot.
The man was driving a white Chevy Tahoe, Thuilliez said, and officers found a firearm inside.
Police said they couldn’t speculate on the reasoning behind the attacks as of 5:30 p.m., as they had yet to interview the man, but noted that his desperate pleas to find his children.
Police in neighboring Beaumont brought the incident to a close stopping the gunman in an SUV and arresting him without incident.