Officials link deputy shooting suspect to other crimes

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One day after officials say Redlands resident Kenneth Welch shot a San Bernardino Sheriff's Deputy in the chest, they're now linking him to several other crimes, including the killing of an innocent man who didn’t even know him: Mario Figueroa.

His niece spoke out Friday morning, saying, "He only wanted to do more with his life for his loved ones and himself - he was a happy man," said Julie Borquez. 

Figueroa was man who deputies say was simply driving his nephew to work in Highland Wednesday when Welch shot him from his car.

"At that time, Mr. Figueroa fell to the street. And the suspect cold heartedly left him there to die as he left the scene," said Sgt. Robert Warrick. 

Deputies say Welch committed a similar crime earlier in the week when he shot two people, also from his car, while they drove on the 210 freeway.

"No information shows he was targetting certain people. Appears at this point to just be random, said Sheriff John McMahon with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. 

That apparent random behavior was on full display early Thursday morning when deputies say Welch shot at Deputy Patrick Higgins after robbing a Hesperia mini mart.

Deputies found him hours later at his home in Redlands with a 9 mm handgun, but say he was arrested without incident. 

Deputies say Welch already has multiple drug and theft arrests in San Bernardino going back to 2000.

And in 2011 in Colorado the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office says he was picked up for an outstanding warrant.

Now detectives are investigating if Welch is linked to  other crimes, while those affected in the crime spree, try finding closure.

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