A gunman's "reign of terror" across California that left several dead and wounded ended Monday morning when the suspect crashed a vehicle while driving more than 100 mph the wrong way down a highway.
Investigators believe Gustavo Garcia, 36, was responsible for a string of robberies, murders and attempted murders committed in less than 24 hours across multiple jurisdictions before the crash, which left him dead and other drivers injured.
"The suspect's life ended in the traffic accident but we can say that his reign of terror is over," Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced in a press conference Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims."
Garcia's rampage began around 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon when he shot and wounded a farm worker who was picking fruit at an orchard in Exeter, California, authorities said.
Just three minutes later, an armed robbery was reported at a nearby mini mart. When investigators studied surveillance footage from the crimes they determined the same vehicle, a silver Honda Pilot, had been seen at both crime scenes.
They were also able to determine from the video that the man who robbed the store was the same man driving the vehicle away from the shooting.
After identifying the suspect, they issued a media alert for Garcia, who had continued on his crime spree.
Lindsay Police believe Garcia was responsible for a shooting that left one man dead in Lindsay, California just two hours after the attempted robbery, the sheriff's office said.
Investigators believe Garcia then headed to Tulare where he tried to "shoot and kill" a woman in the arm and chest at a Motel 6 around 7:30 p.m. that night.
Just 15 minutes later, the sheriff's office said he was involved in an assault with a deadly weapon in Visalia.
The deadly rampage continued into Monday, when investigators say Garcia fired shots into a gas station, then shot and killed a man at another gas station just after 2 a.m.
"We believe Garcia was the shooter in that murder," Boudreaux said, according to the release.
After the murder, Boudreaux said investigators believe Garcia fired shots into two different homes, one in Visalia and one in Sultana, before getting into a brief chase with Visalia Police at about 5 a.m.
According to KFSN, one of the homes belonged to Garcia's ex-girlfriend. It's alleged he threatened her and then shot multiple rounds into her backyard before fleeing.
Although police lost sight of Garcia during their short pursuit, Tulare County Sheriff's deputies would spot him again at about 6:40 a.m. Monday morning.
Garcia's vehicle reportedly broke down during the pursuit causing him to jump out of the vehicle and shoot at officers as he ran to an orchard to carjack another vehicle. The officers returned fire as they tried to apprehend him.
"I've had a chance to review some of the video as well and I have to tell you that they ran into harm's way. They truly are heroes," Boudreaux said, according to KFSN.
Police and sheriff's deputies pursued Garcia as he drove more than 100 miles an hour going southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 65 before he lost control and crashed the vehicle, killing himself and leaving at least one other person in critical condition, the sheriff's office said.
Police said he had intentionally been trying to hit other driver's before the crash, KFSN reports.
The motive in the crimes is unknown and authorities have said an autopsy will be conducted to determine whether Garcia was under the influence of any substances during the rampage, The Fresno Bee reports.
"It appears his rampage and his acts of violence were random and they were not chosen targets, which makes it even more dangerous," Boudreaux said, according to the newspaper. "This person was targeting anyone who got in the way."
Garcia had an extensive criminal past including arrests for drugs, assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism. Although his current immigration status was unknown, Boudreaux said he had been deported in 2014 after getting in trouble with immigration authorities.
Rocky Jones, 51, was identified by his family as one of the victims who died. Jones was shot outside a gas station in Visalia around 2 a.m. Monday morning after getting into an argument of some kind with Garcia, KFSN reports.
The victim's family is now trying to make sense of the crime.
"I don't think there's making sense of somebody who is that evil, because if you are a good a person, you'll never find the understanding in something like that," said his niece Kenedi Baxter-Jones said.
[Photos: Tulare County Sheriff's Office]
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