BREA, Calif. - A manhunt is underway for a gunman after a string of armed robberies at several 7-Eleven locations throughout Southern California left at least two people dead and three others wounded.
Local authorities confirmed Tuesday afternoon the lone gunman was responsible for at least five of the six robberies at 7-Eleven stores that occurred early Monday morning. Police released an image of the suspect being sought for the violent robberies in Brea, La Habra, Santa Ana, Upland, and Riverside.
A surveillance photo of the suspect wanted in connection with the incidents has been released as detectives continue to investigate.
Suspect wanted in the fatal shooting of an employee at the 7-Eleven on Lambert Rd and N. Brea Blvd in Brea. Authorities believe this suspect is also connected to the incidents in La Habra and Santa Ana. (Credit: Brea Police Dept.) (FOX 11)
Authorities said they will be alerting other 7-Eleven stores to take additional safety precautions.
"I think the only person to answer that would be the suspect," said Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesperson for the Riverside Police Department.
The shootings coincide with National 7/11 Day, when the national 7-Eleven brand celebrates its anniversary and gives customers a chance to receive a free Slurpee.
Railsback said the date was no accident.
"There’s no way it can be a coincidence of it being 7-Eleven, July 11," he said.
"Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones. We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement," 7-Eleven said in a statement. "Right now, our focus is on Franchisee, associate and customer safety. With that in mind, we encouraged stores in the Los Angeles area to close overnight."
Here's what we know so far about the six separate incidents.
7-Eleven robbery Ontario
The Ontario Police Department confirmed to FOX 11 that another robbery was reported at a 7-Eleven location at 636 N. Vine Ave. Around midnight Monday morning, an armed man entered the store, according to Ontario Police Corporal Emily Hernandez. No shots were fired, but the suspect — described as being roughly 5 foot 10 inches tall and 160 pounds, wearing a dark shirt and sweatshirt — stole an unspecified amount of money.
7-Eleven robbery Upland
Police have also confirmed a robbery at a 7-Eleven in Upland at 2410 W. Arrow Route early Monday morning. According to Upland Police Sergeant Jacob Kirk, the suspect entered the store around 12:40 a.m., pulling out a weapon. The suspect made off with about $500 and some drinks. No one was injured in this robbery, and Upland PD is working with other law enforcement agencies to determine if this suspect is the one responsible for other shootings throughout the night.
7-Eleven shooting Brea
In Brea, a store clerk – later identified as 40-year-old Matthew Hirsch – was shot and killed in an armed robbery at the 7-Eleven on Lambert Road and N. Brea Boulevard around 4:18 a.m., police said. The male victim died at the scene.
According to authorities, they believe based on preliminary evidence that the suspect involved in this fatal shooting is linked to the incidents at the La Habra and Santa Ana 7-Eleven stores.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Hirsch's family.
7-Eleven shooting Santa Ana
A similar crime was reported around 3:23 a.m. at the 7-Eleven in the 300 block of 17th Street in Santa Ana, police said. A man was found dead in the parking lot, suffering from a fatal gunshot wound to his upper torso.
Clerks told FOX 11 that the suspect connected to the three incidents had visited the Santa Ana location the previous day and was not allowed inside.
7-Eleven shooting La Habra
Meanwhile, in La Habra, police were investigating a similar armed robbery after two people were shot outside the 7-Eleven near Cypress Street and Whittier Boulevard around 4:55 a.m.
In this incident, an employee and a man sitting in his car outside the store were shot; both were taken to the hospital and are expected to survive, officials said. Police told FOX 11 that a cash register was found apparently on the floor of the convenience store.
The two victims were identified as a longtime, well-liked clerk at the 7-Eleven as well as a customer. Both are expected to survive, police said.
As this is an ongoing investigation, police are asking witnesses to contact La Habra Police Department's Watch Commander at 562-383-4300.
7-Eleven shooting Riverside
Just before 2 a.m., an armed robbery was reported at a 7-Eleven on La Sierra Avenue in Riverside.
According to police, a customer was shot in the head inside the convenience store and remains in grave condition. There is no indication the customer did anything to intervene in the robbery but was still shot by the suspect, police said.
The victim remains in grave condition.
Officials did not immediately release information on a possible suspect or suspects.
FOX 11's Mary Stringini, Joe Calabrese, KJ Hiramoto and Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.