2 Arrested in String of Fatal 7-Eleven Robberies, Police Say

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Two Los Angeles men were arrested on Friday in connection with a string of robberies at 7-Eleven stores in Southern California on Monday in which two people were fatally shot and three others injured in a crime spree that terrorized the region, the authorities said.

The arrests of the two men — Malik D. Patt, 20, and Jason Payne, 44 — on Friday afternoon ended a search that had spanned four California counties and involved at least seven police departments.

At a news conference on Friday, the authorities did not fully address the motives for the crimes or explain how the men had been found.

“This crime spree received national attention because of the depravity and the randomness of the act,” Mayor Vincente Sarmiento of Santa Ana said at the news conference.

The crimes occurred on Monday morning at six 7-Eleven stores, and all on the distinctive date of July 11, or 7-11, prompting questions of what significance the timing might have held. The authorities did not address that question on Friday. The authorities also believe that a robbery at a Yum Yum Donuts shop on Monday morning is tied to the other convenience store crimes from that day.

Additionally, Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton of the Los Angeles Police Department said, a murder in the city on July 9 may also be tied to Mr. Patt. He added that his department and agencies in surrounding areas were investigating whether the two men had been involved in other crimes throughout the Los Angeles region.

The authorities said that Mr. Patt was the gunman who shot and killed two people and injured three others on July 11. He is expected to be charged next week with murder, attempted murder and robbery, according to Todd Spitzer, the district attorney in Orange County.

“This was a reign of terror,” he said.

It was not immediately clear on Friday if Mr. Patt and Mr. Payne had lawyers.

The police did not specify what role they believe Mr. Payne had played in the convenience store crimes other than to say that he had provided assistance.

The shootings and robberies had stoked fears in affected communities, where residents frequent the stores, Mr. Sarmiento said.

7-Eleven had been celebrating its 95th birthday on July 11 by giving customers free Slurpee drinks. After the spree, the company offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. It is unclear if anyone will receive the reward.

The men who were killed were identified by the local authorities as Matthew Hirsch, 40, of La Habra, and Matthew Rule, 24, of Santa Ana.

John Rule, Matthew Rule’s father, said by phone on Friday that his son, who loved music and art and hoped to one day work in movie production, had been at a 7-Eleven store in Santa Ana on Monday morning to buy a drink for his girlfriend.

Matthew Rule had tried to protect a homeless man who was being robbed at gunpoint that day in the store’s parking lot, his father said. The Santa Ana Police Department said the gunman had shot Matthew Rule in his upper torso, killing him.

“He cared about people, and he hated people bullying others,” John Rule said. He added, “I just want to hug him one last time.”

Mr. Hirsch, a clerk at a 7-Eleven in Brea, had begun to rebound after battling years of addiction, working overnight hours and texting his family that he was “so super tired,” CBS Los Angles reported.

Mr. Spitzer, the Orange County district attorney, said at the news conference that Mr. Hirsch had been trying to get back on his feet.

“You’ve been an addict, and you’re working at a 7-Eleven because they’ve given you a chance to resurrect your life,” he said. “And then somebody comes in and feigns a transaction — and shoots you and kills you.”

The crimes on July 11 spanned about five hours and covered a stretch of dozens of miles through Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, south and east of Los Angeles.

The police in the six cities where the crimes occurred had been searching for a masked gunman who had been wearing a distinctive hooded sweatshirt. On Friday, the authorities identified that man as Mr. Patt.

Several Southern California stores closed in the wake of the shootings.

Shortly after midnight on Monday, a masked man with a handgun robbed a 7-Eleven in Ontario, the police said. About three miles away, at about 1:35 a.m., a man entered a 7-Eleven in Upland and aimed his gun at a clerk, demanding cash, said Chief David Valentin of the Santa Ana Police Department.

At 1:50 a.m., the first shooting occurred in Riverside, where the police found a man in his 40s bleeding from a gunshot wound inside a 7-Eleven. That person was taken to a hospital and survived.

About an hour later, there was a robbery at Yum Yum Donuts in Santa Ana that the authorities said was tied to the other crimes.

By about 3:23 a.m., the gunman had traveled to Santa Ana, about 40 miles southwest of Riverside, and shot and killed Mr. Rule, the police said.

In Brea, a gunman shot and killed Mr. Hirsch, a 7-Eleven clerk, while trying to rob the store at about 4:18 a.m., the police said. About 30 minutes later, a gunman shot two people at a store in La Habra. Those victims were taken to a hospital, the police said.

Mr. Sarmiento said that the arrests “can’t undo the crimes that have been enacted against our community.”

“But what it does,” he added, “is it gives a sense of at least finality.”

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