Suspect arrested in deadly California stabbing and robbery spree was documented gang member, convicted felon

The suspect arrested for fatally stabbing four people and injuring two others during an hours-long crime spree in Southern California is a convicted felon and documented gang member, police said.

Authorities on Thursday identified 33-year-old Zachary Castaneda as the man arrested in connection with a series of stabbings and robberies in the Garden Grove and Santa Anna communities, both located about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles. He was arrested on Wednesday outside a 7-Eleven after stabbing a security guard there.

He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail, KABC reported.

Garden Grove Police Lt. Karl Whitney during a press conference said Castaneda became combative with authorities attempting to interview him overnight, and that investigators are still working to determine what sparked the suspect’s violent rampage.

“We just know that this was a random act of violence, and the guy unleashed evil,” he said.

“He remained violent with us through the night. He never told us why he did this. We know at three locations he robbed people for cash – we don’t know if the motive behind this was purely robbery.”

The wave of violence kicked off around 4 p.m. Wednesday when Garden Grove police officers responded to reports of a robbery at an apartment complex – reportedly where the suspect is a resident. Around the same time they received reports of a robbery at a bakery, where no one was injured.

Officers were called back to the apartment complex shortly after and found two male victims suffering stab wounds. One of them was pronounced dead on the scene, the second, who was found outside on the balcony, later succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Authorities also responded to robberies at a cash check business as well as a neighboring insurance company, where a 54-year-old employee was stabbed.

She is expected to survive her wounds.

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Castaneda is also accused of stabbing a man who was pumping gas at Chevron station for what appeared to be “no reason” as well as killing a 7-Eleven security guard and stealing his firearm.

The gas station victim nearly had his nose severed from his face and was also stabbed in the back. He is still hospitalized, but expected to survive.

Police said the alleged attacker was covered in blood when he was taken into custody outside the Santa Ana 7-Eleven just after 6 p.m.

“He could have injured or killed many other innocent people,” Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRe said Thursday evening.

Castaneda has a criminal history dating back to 2004, which includes prison time for possession of methamphetamine while armed with an assault rifle and car theft.

According to court records, his wife sought a restraining order against him after he threw a beer can at her 16-year-old daughter last year. She similarly sought protection against him in 2009 when he broke her arm during a fight. He was also convicted of spousal abuse in 2009 but was paroled after serving about a year behind bars.

His wife filed for divorce earlier this year and currently has custody of their two sons, ages 7 and 12.

Castaneda was also arrested last month for having a concealed dagger and on other drug charges while he was on bail for a June arrest for street gang vandalism.

He pleaded not guilty to those charges.

With News Wire Services

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