Authorities: Man in Orange County shooting rampage left suicide note

Ali Syed accused in three deaths

TUSTIN, Calif. - Orange County sheriff's investigators Friday revealed they found a suicide note on the desktop computer of a 20-year-old Ladera Ranch man that indicated he planned his shooting spree that killed three others before he turned the weapon on himself last month.

Ali Syed wrote a half-page note titled "suicide note" on a desktop computer in his bedroom, Orange County sheriff's investigator Dan Salcedo said.

The document was created within an hour of the 911 call from his mother when Syed shot and killed 20-year-old Courtney Aoki of Buena Park Feb. 19.

Investigators are still trying to determine why Aoki was at Syed's Ladera Ranch home, Salcedo said. The two had no prior relationship, he added.

"As of yet we cannot completely confirm what brought her to the home," Salcedo said. "His note had no indication he was associated with Courtney or any of the victims."

Syed does not spell out a plan to go on a shooting spree in his note, but investigators believe his gun rampage was premeditated because the computer document was created an hour before the first shooting and he eventually turned the gun on himself as police were closing in on him, Salcedo said.

"All along the end result was going to be what happened," Salcedo said. "(The note) certainly gave us an indication he planned this out."

Investigators released the information about the note for the sake of the victims' loved ones, Salcedo said.

"It may be a relief for the victims and families that Mr. Syed did not have a vendetta against them or the victims," Salcedo said.

Aoki's mother has told investigators her daughter did not have a car and relied on others for transportation, Salcedo said. That's what indicates to them that someone drove her over to Syed's home the night of her killing, he added.

One man has told a reporter that he had driven Aoki before to the homes of others, but not to Syed's house, Salcedo said. That man has not responded to requests from investigators to discuss it, Salcedo said.

After shooting Aoki, Syed took his family's sport utility vehicle and began his shooting spree, authorities said.

Syed was unemployed, living at home with his parents and was taking a class at Saddleback College. He was an obsessive video game player, authorities say.

Syed graduated in 2010 from Junipero Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano.

Syed tried to carjack a number of vehicles in the Tustin area, police said. The first carjacking occurred at 5:10 a.m.

A man who was shot in the head by Syed in the parking lot of a Big Lots store at Red Hill Avenue and El Camino Real survived the shooting, Tustin police Lt. Tom Tarpley said.

The man, whose name was not released, had been waiting for his son to carpool to work. When he saw Syed coming, he punched the accelerator and tried to drive away, but Syed, who was out of his vehicle, shot him, Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan said. The victim crashed the car a short distance away.

Syed then got back into his vehicle, but ditched it minutes later because it had a flat tire, Jordan said. It was then that he stole a man's Dodge pickup truck at a Mobil gas station at Red Hill Avenue and Nisson Road, Tarpley said.

A "very polite" Syed walked up to the gas station customer and, according to Jordan, said, "I don't want to hurt you. I killed somebody and today's my last day. Give me your keys."

Syed drove the truck onto the northbound Santa Ana (5) Freeway, but stopped and got out of the pickup at the transition to the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, where he opened fire on passing vehicles in an attempt to procure another vehicle, Tarpley said.

One motorist sustained a bullet wound to the head, but the Tustin resident -- who was not carrying a cellphone -- was able to drive to his house, where he called for help, Jordan said. The man's name was withheld.

Police found seven shell casings at the freeway shooting scene, Tarpley said.

The owner of the Dodge pickup never put gas in the truck at the Mobil station, prompting the suspect's search for another vehicle, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

A short time later, 69-year-old Melvin Lee Edwards of Laguna Hills was fatally shot in a carjacking on Village Way at the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway off-ramp in Santa Ana. Edwards, who owned an aerospace business in Santa Ana, was on his way to work, Bertagna said.

The gunman got into Edwards' BMW and drove back into Tustin, where another carjacking occurred near the Micro Center at 1100 Edinger Ave.

The fatally wounded victim, 26-year-old Jeremy A. Lewis of Fullerton, was working at a hotel construction site across the street from the Micro Center, Tarpley said.

As one of Lewis' co-workers ran across the street toward the sound of gunshots, Syed opened fire on him as well and took the unidentified man's pickup truck and fled, Tarpley said.

California Highway Patrol officers were closing in on Syed when he got out of the truck at East Katella Avenue and North Wanda Road in Villa Park and committed suicide, Tarpley said.

Syed used a shotgun that his father had bought for him, authorities said.

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