A gathering of friends in Gardena turned deadly Tuesday when a man opened fire on the group, killing a woman and injuring three other people -- including his pregnant girlfriend -- then carjacked a married couple, fatally shot the husband and fled in their vehicle, sheriff's officials said.
According to the sheriff's department, the violence began around 4 a.m. at a mobile home park in the 1200 block of West 135th Street in Gardena, where a group of friends had gathered. The suspect--a 25-year-old man--became upset for unknown reasons during the gathering and opened fire at the group, sheriff's officials said.
A 28-year-old woman was killed and three other people were wounded, among them a 23-year-old pregnant woman believed to be the suspect's girlfriend. The woman and her unborn baby are expected to survive, sheriff's officials said. Also wounded was a 24-year-old woman who was taken to a hospital, treated and released. A fourth victim identified only as a male whose age was unknown, was hospitalized in serious condition.
After the shooting, the gunman forced a married couple to drive him from the scene in their vehicle, a black Kia Soul, officials said. When they reached Lynwood, the suspect fatally shot the husband who was driving the SUV and dragged him out of the vehicle on the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard onramp to the southbound Long Beach (710) Freeway. Sheriff's Lt. John Corina said the suspect tried to shoot the dead man's wife, but his gun apparently jammed.
"She's very lucky to be alive actually," Corina said.
The suspect, frustrated at his malfunctioning weapon, fled in the couple's SUV, leaving the wife behind with her dead husband, according to Corina.
The husband who was fatally shot was identified by the coroner's office as Francisco Montes, 28, of Gardena.
A weapon believed to have been used in the shootings was recovered at the freeway onramp, the sheriff's department reported.
Corina told reporters that investigators know who the suspect is, but they withheld his name while they continued searching for him. He said it's still unclear what prompted the shooting.
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"These are people he knows," Corina said. "...Why he's shooting at them, we're still trying to figure it out."
He told reporters the suspect and Montes both belong to the same gang.
"We're not sure if this is like a drug-fueled binge this guy's going on...using methamphetamine or something like that; or is he just enraged at people and he's taking it out on his friends,'' Corina said.
The name of the woman killed in the initial shooting was not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.