Two dead in random Southern California shootings

BANNING, Calif. (AP) — Police on Sunday identified the suspect arrested in the shootings 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.

Banning Police Chief Alex Diaz said victims interviewed by police said they did not know the suspect.

“At this point, in my heart, I believe this was just something random,” he told the Associated Press. “We are pretty sure this is the only suspect involved in the random shootings.”

Authorities on Saturday responded to reports of gunfire in a string of incidents in the city near Palm Springs, California that killed two people and injured three including a shooting that killed a driver and injured a passenger, a car-to-car shooting that caused a minor injury and an assault at a gas station.

Authorities also found a man whose car crashed into a facility wall had been shot — an incident Diaz said investigators believe was linked.

Within an hour, police in the nearby city of Beaumont fielded calls about a man knocking on people’s doors looking for his children and breaking the window of a vehicle occupied by a woman and her children, Diaz said.

Officers tracked down a white SUV linked to those incidents and that matched a vehicle seen at the attacks in Banning. Police in Beaumont arrested James Paul Diaz and found a weapon inside the SUV, chief Diaz said.

One of the victims of the shootings was identified as Paul Lesh. The other victim’s name was not released, pending notification of family, he said.

It was not immediately clear when the suspect would appear in court. Messages were left on phone numbers linked to Diaz’s name.

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