Saddleback student, Ali Syed, 20, was identified by Orange County Sheriff’s Department as the suspect behind the shooting spree that left three people dead and five people injured, before turning the gun on himself on Feb. 19.
Information on Syed’s shootings was released by the Tustin Police Department at a press conference held that same afternoon.
Syed was enrolled in one class this semester, Computer Maintenance and Repair I, taught by instructor Eugene
Evancoe. Evancoe was surprised that it was his quiet student who went on the shooting spree.
“He didn’t give any reason for alarm or concern,” Evancoe said. “He seemed like a normal student. He was a little quiet, but he was well behaved in class.”
Evancoe said that Syed seemed very interested in computer repairs and consistently attended class. “He did well on his tests and assignments,” Evancoe said. “I think he liked to work on computers on his own because he knew a little more than what the class was covering.”
Michael Hoefegn, a classmate of Syed’s said that he never really talked with Syed, but that he seemed like a smart kid. “I never saw it coming,” Hoefegn said.
• At 4:45 a.m., several gunshots were heard from Syed’s parents’ home on Red Leaf Lane in Ladera Ranch. Courtney Aoki, 20, was found dead with multiple gunshots to the head inside the residence.
• Syed fled from his home in his parents’ black SUV heading north on Interstate 5, exiting Red Hill Avenue in Tustin.
• In a Denny’s parking lot near the Red Hill Avenue exit, Syed began shooting at the second victim’s car. The victim survived after receiving a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
• Noticing damage to the SUV, Syed walked to the nearby Mobil gas station where he proceeded to steal a car, leaving the owner uninjured.
• Continuing onto the I-5 to the California 55 south, Syed stopped his car at the on-ramp where he started to shoot at cars passing by. He shot at three cars, injuring one person.
• Syed continued on the CA-55, exited McFadden Avenue where he approached a BMW and shot Melvin Lee Edward, 69.
• Taking the victim’s BMW, Syed fled back to the CA-55 before he exited onto Edinger Avenue. He then approached and killed construction worker, Jeremy Louis, 26, and injured another victim at the Micro Center parking lot.
• At 5:55 a.m., Syed then proceeded north on the CA-55, exiting at Katella Avenue where he continued to the intersection of Wanda Road and Katella in the city of Orange. With California Highway Patrol Officers approaching, Syed exited his car, turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
“He didn’t talk to anybody, he just sat back, did his thing and went on his way,” classmate Nick Rupp said.
Information pertaining to Syed’s weapon, the first victim, and the 911 calls were released to the public during a press conference at the Tustin Police Department by Orange County Sheriff’s spokesperson Jim Amormino Feb. 20.
The first victim was Courtney Aoki, 20, of Buena Park, Calif. The reason is still unclear as to why she was at Syed’s residence in Ladera Ranch the morning of the incident. Aoki was found fully clothed and was identified through two pairs of fingerprints, as the first attempt failed to identify her. No evidence of sexual assault was found but more tests will be done during the autopsy, according to Amormino.
Aoki was allegedly two months pregnant the morning of her murder according to her close friend Danni Wood, 23, of Long Beach, Calif.
Friends said they were shocked to hear about the death of their close friend.
“Baby sister was everything to me,” “I could talk to her about everything.” Wood said.
Wood refers to herself not just as a close friend but as a “big sister.”
According to authorities there were rumors of Aoki being a stripper. Aoki’s ex-boyfriend Roger Azevedo, 22, of Eatonton, Ga., and Wood both confirmed that she stripped and also offered erotic services for clientele.
The Lariat found a profile on escort websites that appears to have belonged to Aoki. The advertisement said, “I’m a very classy and discrete private dancer” who was available in the Orange County and Los Angeles County areas.
In an interview with the Lariat, Wood revealed that although she didn’t agree with how Aoki made her money, she still supported her.
“[Her boyfriend] Dave [Gutierrez] and I would serve as her driver and bodyguard during some of her sessions to protect her,” Wood said, crossing her arms like she would while standing outside the door during Aoki’s sessions.
Azevedo and Wood told the Lariat, that they told Aoki multiple times that she didn’t need to continue these services saying she was outgoing and very loving.
“I was supposed to be her bodyguard that night,” Wood said. “If I was with her I would have been killed too.”
Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College both confirmed that Aoki was not enrolled in either school.
A motive for Syed’s rampage has not yet been determined, OC Sheriffs said, and that mental illness does not seem to have been a factor.
According to a Federal Law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the rights of a deceased student may be released.
Saddleback College Disabled Students Programs and Services-Special Services have declined to disclose information as to whether or not he was enrolled within the program during his duration at Saddleback.
Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Pr
ess Law Center in Arlington, Va., said that the Department of Education’s opinion letter addresses the disability regulations in two pages. “The law says they can take as much time as need as long as they don’t exceed ten days,” Goldstein said, “how long does it take you to read two pages?”