A lone gunman struck four 7-Eleven stores in California, killing 2 and wounding 3 just before dawn on Monday.
“Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones,” 7-Eleven, Inc. said in a statement. “We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement.” The shootings coincided with July 11, or 7/11 — a day when the national 7-Eleven brand is celebrating its 95th birthday by giving out free Slurpee drinks.
According to authorities, the shootings appeared to be the cause of robberies or attempted robberies at Riverside, Santa Ana, Brea, and La Habra stores. “I think the only person to answer that would be the suspect,” said Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesperson for the Riverside Police Department, where the first shooting happened at about 1:50 a.m. “There’s no way it can be a coincidence of it being 7-Eleven, July 11.”
In the Riverside case, which took place at around 1:20 AM, the gunman robbed the clerk and brandished a gun, then turned the weapon on a customer, opened fire, and fled, Railsback said. Police believe the clerk handed over cash from the register.
The second shooting occurred around 3:20 a.m., about 24 miles (39 kilometers) away, in Santa Ana, authorities said.
Less than an hour later, officers in neighboring La Habra were sent to a reported robbery at a 7-Eleven. They discovered two gunshot victims around 4:55 a.m., according to Sgt. Sumner Boheme. The gunman had fled.