Suspect identified in Banning shootings

BANNING At least two people were dead Saturday, three others were injured and an unidentified man was in custody after a series of random shootings, authorities said.


James Paul Diaz, 34, was booked on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of shooting at a person from a vehicle and one count of shooting at an inhabited vehicle in connection with the incident, Banning police said in a statement.

Within a span of 45 minutes, police received four calls about shootings, including a car-to-car shooting that left one driver dead in the Inland Empire, Banning Police said late Saturday.

A few minutes later, in nearby Beaumont, California, police were alerted that a man was knocking on residence doors and they then learned that a man was breaking a window and a door handle of an occupied vehicle, police said.

The victim was transported to a local hospital for medical care and later released.

While juggling the first two crime scenes, Banning police were called to the ARCO AM/PM station on Ramsey Street at about noon, where a man had used a gun to repeatedly bludgeon another man. His children were safe, Diaz said. Another driver also shot at suffered minor injuries from shattered glass that hit her face and arms, according to Banning Police Chief Alex Diaz.

The assault in parking lot of the gas station was videotaped.

At 12:13 p.m., police were called to the 200 block of E Lincoln Street, where a vehicle had crashed into a wall.

Less than 10 minutes later, a second shooting was reported near San Gorgonio Avenue and Nicolet Street adjacent to Nicolet Middle School.

Oscar Reza said he was discussing the rash of shootings with a store clerk at the convenience store when a man with a gun under his shirt began threatening him and others.

After contacting Banning police, Beaumont police officers stopped the suspect nearby.

Police said they couldn’t speculate on the reasoning behind the attacks as of 5:30 p.m., as they had yet to interview the man, but noted that his desperate pleas to find his children.


Police spotted the suspect’s vehicle a short time later and made a traffic stop and arrested him, authorities said. Upon their arrival, officers found the man inside the vehicle deceased.

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