BREA (CNS) – A rash of robbery-shootings at Southland 7-Eleven stores has left at least two people dead, with police saying Tuesday some of the crimes appear to be related.
Brea police said they responded at 4:17 a.m. Monday to the 7-Eleven store at Lambert Road and North Brea Boulevard and found a male store clerk fatally shot in what officers determined to be a robbery.
The clerk was identified as 40-year-old Matthew Hirsch who died at the scene, police said.
According to Brea police, that shooting is believed to be related to another shooting that occurred a short time later in La Habra.
La Habra police responded at 4:55 a.m. Monday to a robbery at the 7- Eleven store at 381 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra Police Department Sgt. Eric Roy said. When officers arrived they found two victims with gunshot wounds who were taken to a hospital by Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics, he said
Both of the victims in the La Habra shooting were expected to survive, Roy said. Police said the victims were a clerk and a customer.
At a late-morning news conference Monday, Brea Police Department Capt. Phil Rodriguez said, “Based on some preliminary evidence we do believe it is possibly the same suspect.”
Rodriguez said investigators were looking into possible connections to 7-Eleven shootings Monday morning in Santa Ana and Riverside.
“We are aware of other incidents that have occurred in the southland at 7-Elevens,” Rodriguez said. “We obviously at this point can’t confirm whether they are connected, but we assure you our detectives are looking into that.”
Santa Ana police said 24-year-old Matthew Rule of Santa Ana was fatally shot at 3:25 a.m. Monday outside the 7-Eleven store in the 300 block of East 17th Street.
Police found Rule in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to the upper body, Santa Ana Police Department Sgt. Maria Lopez said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The suspect apparently never entered the store in Santa Ana and it appears he robbed Rule, Lopez said. It wasn’t clear if Rule was a customer of the store or why he was there, Lopez said.
Based on surveillance photos of the suspect in the Brea and La Habra shootings, Santa Ana police said they believe it is the same suspect in Santa Ana, Lopez said.
And, in Riverside, a customer was shot about 1:50 a.m. Monday in what police described as an apparent robbery at the 7-Eleven store at 5102 La Sierra Ave., according to Riverside Police Department Officer Ryan Railsback. Police said the victim in that shooting was in grave condition.
“The suspect entered the store, brandished a firearm and robbed the clerk, then shot a customer before fleeing the store on foot,” Railsback said.
The first stickup may have occurred in Ontario. Police said just after midnight Monday the 7-Eleven at 636 N. Vine Ave. was robbed. The suspect held up the store with a handgun, but no shots were fired and no one was injured, police said.
In Upland, the 7-Eleven store at 2410 W. Arrow Route was robbed at 12:40 a.m. Monday, police said. Investigators in Upland were huddling with other agencies to see if there was a connection.
The robberies and shootings occurred on July 11 — or 7-11.
7-Eleven, Inc. issued the following statement about the shootings:
“Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones. We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement.”
They also recommended that stores in the areas that were robbed close for the evening,
“Right now, our focus is on Franchisee, associate and customer safety. With that in mind, we encouraged stores in the Los Angeles area to close overnight,” the statement said.
The Brea location where Hirsch was fatally shot was one of the several stores that closed Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. Yellow police tape was strung along the parking lot in the early morning hours and a makeshift memorial next to the parking has been created for Hirsch.
Anyone with information helpful to investigators was asked to call Brea Police Department Detective Alfred Rodriguez at 714-671-4438 or email@example.com.