California authorities search for suspects behind five homicides

An intense manhunt was underway in California Wednesday afternoon for the person or people behind a string of deadly attacks, which have claimed the lives of a toddler, a young schoolteacher and another three victims.

Authorities in San Bernardino on Tuesday said they discovered evidence that potentially connects at least some of the slayings, all of which occurred between August 2019 and January 2020 near a stretch of highway known for gang activity.

“They’re very close to each other, a couple miles apart,” San Bernardino police Sgt. Al Tello told ABC 7. “It’s the west side of our city, in a high gang area.”

Police said they also have physical evidence to suggest the homicides are linked.

The first shooting, which was recorded on surveillance video, unfolded in a parking lot on Aug. 17, 2019. Police said the clip shows the suspect exit a white sedan, walk up to another car and open fire into its driver side window, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

The victim was identified as 25-year-old Nancy Magana, a middle school teacher, who was sitting in the vehicle with her boyfriend and 5-year-old son at the time.

Just less than a month later, authorities responded to a traffic collision not far from the site of the shooting. When they arrived on the scene, they discovered a 21-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound.

His 2-year-old daughter was injured in the crash and died at the hospital.

Authorities said the father was shot in the moments ahead of the car wreck. Surveillance from the scene shows another vehicle, a silver sedan, speeding away.

On Jan. 19, officers discovered 24-year-old Lemon Hamilton lying in the middle of the street. He later died from a gunshot wound at an area hospital, where a second 20-year-old victim also turned up suffering from a gunshot wound.

Three days later, authorities found two more gunshot victims identified as 24-year-old Israel De La Torre and 33-year-old Daniel Melendrez. They both died from their wounds.

Surveillance video from Jan. 21, shows two vehicles dropping off men, who then ambushed the two victims.

Authorities said it appeared some of those shot knew their attackers while others, like Magana, was shot at random.

“We think that just a few people coming forward can help us solve quite a few of these incidents,” said Chief Eric McBride. “There are people who saw these homicides, saw these shootings, saw what happened. We need those people to come forward.”

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