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Gunman Identified in LA Drive-By Shootings That Left Man at Starbucks and Uber Driver Dead

A 50-year-old Los Angeles man suspected of killing two people in what police described as random acts of violence was later killed in a freeway standoff with police.

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The shooter who opened fire at five locations early Tuesday in Los Angeles, killing a man in a Starbucks drive-thru line and an Uber driver, has been identified by authorities.

Carlos Lopez Melendrez, 50, of Los Angeles, died in a shootout with police in Fullerton after a chase and standoff that followed the series of early morning shootings in and around downtown Los Angeles, multiple law enforcement sources told NBCLA.

Lopez was suspected of shooting three men, two fatally, early Tuesday morning, according to Lt. Raul Jovel of the Los Angeles Police Department. Police have not identified a motive.

"These appear to be random acts of violence ... we have no idea what precipitated this,'' Jovel said at a news conference near where the pursuit ended. "We'll be going back to the suspect's home, talking to family members, trying to figure out what led to these acts of violence.''

The sequence of events began about 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a 43-year-old man came under fire while in his vehicle in the downtown Los Angeles area. The man, who suffered a bullet graze wound to the head, gave authorities a description of the shooter's vehicle, Jovel said.

His dashboard camera also captured video of the shooter's Jeep SUV.

About 25 minutes later, 24-year-old Alexis Carbajal was shot and killed while sitting in his blue Mustang at Figueroa and 28th streets, near the University of Southern California, according to police. Family members told reporters at the scene that Carbajal, a newlywed, was in a drive-thru line at Starbucks with his wife, who escaped injury, when the suspect rammed his car and then opened fire.

The crash was captured on security camera video.

The family held a vigil at the shooting site Tuesday night and reportedly planned to do so again Wednesday. Flowers and other items were left at the location in memory of Carbajal.

About 15 minutes after Carbajal was shot, an Uber driver behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade was fatally wounded near Seventh and Figueroa streets. Mingzhi Zhu, 42, of South Pasadena was stopped at a red light when he was targeted.

In the aftermath of the three shootings, officers saw the shooter's vehicle and began chasing it about 1:45 a.m. The pursuit, often at slow speeds, traveled along the Pomona (60) and Orange (57) freeways before coming to an end about 4 a.m. on the westbound 91 Freeway at the Raymond Avenue overcrossing, where officers deployed spike strips, damaging the SUV's tires and forcing it to stop.

Two law enforcement vehicles boxed in the suspect's SUV, and a standoff ensued, Jovel said.

"SWAT officers arrived, and they initiated the normal procedures to negotiate with the suspect,'' Jovel said. ``They attempted to talk to him several times. At one point, they tried to have the suspect talk to a family member. That was unsuccessful ...''

Jovel said officers had used information from the SUV's license plate, and went to the home of the registered owner, where a family member of the suspect was contacted, leading to an effort by police to have the relative talk to Lopez.

"At one point, the suspect fired at the officers, (which) resulted in an officer-involved shooting,'' Jovel said. ``The suspect was hit by gunfire and was pronounced dead at scene by the local fire department.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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