2 killed, 3 others injured in Banning crime spree

- A man was taken into custody follow a series of shootings in the town of Banning on Saturday in which two people were killed and three others injured, police said.

Banning Police responded to four different locations, and found two people dead in different vehicles.

In the first incident, which was reported at about 11:35 a.m., a male driver was killed and a passenger wounded. The passenger reported a gunman in a "white in color SUV." Police say his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Less than 10 minutes later, a female driver suffered minor injuries and told police a male gunman shot her from a white SUV "wearing a blue shirt and possibly sunglasses," according to Banning Police Chief Alex Diaz.

A third incident was reported just after 11:50 a.m. at an AMPM gas station. Police said the victim was assaulted while sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot and also reported the same vehicle description.

Efrian Mejia works inside and says everyone at the store knows the victim.

"He was getting in his car. And the guy was just hitting him with the back of the gun. All of his face was bruised. He comes here if not every day, every other day. And he's a really good guy. He buys us lotto tickets," said Mejia.

In the fourth incident, a man was found shot dead in a truck that was crashed near East Lincoln Street and San Gorgonio Avenue.

Part of Nicolet Middle School nearby was put on lockdown where 45 teens were there for a youth program.


Around 12:22 p.m., police got another call; this time it was in the nearby city of Beaumont.

Police said a man was going door to door on American Street asking if anyone had seen his children or if any children were present.

He then stopped on 8th Street and tried getting into a woman's car. She had young kids in the car, and the man was somehow able to break her window, according to police.

She called police, and within minutes, police took the man into custody. Authorities said they found a gun in the car.

On Sunday, the suspect was identified as James Paul Diaz. 

Diaz was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on two counts of murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon,  one count of shooting at a person from a vehicle, one count of shooting at an inhabited vehicle and one count of attempted murder, police said.

Police also said Sunday the passenger victim from the 700 block of East John Street incident was released from the hospital. 

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