LAKE FOREST, Calif. (FOX 11) - Orange County deputies arrested a man on Tuesday night after he allegedly went on a violent 9-minute crime spree in Lake Forest, leaving two women in critical condition. The man will be booked on suspicion of multiple offenses including attempted murder, carjacking and felony hit-and-run, deputies said.
According to the sheriff's department, the alleged crime spree began Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. near the Salvation Army store on Rockfield Boulevard. Deputies said that James Carlos Melendrez, 25, of Anaheim, got into a fight near the store, and then broke into an apartment complex on Ridge Route Drive. He was confronted by a man and woman inside one of the units and ran away on foot.
Melendrez then ran across Rockfield Blvd. into a residential neighborhood where he allegedly broke into a home on Danby Drive by smashing a back window. At the time, the home was occupied by a woman and two juveniles. Deputies said that once inside, Melendrez armed himself with a knife. The woman reportedly fled into the neighborhood in an effort to lure Melendrez away from the teenagers. Melendrez chased the female down Danby Drive onto Mullin Road and stabbed her multiple times, deputies said.
During the stabbing, civilians in a white BMW driving through the neighborhood stopped to help, assuming that Melendrez was assisting the injured woman. The knife-wielding suspect chased them away and carjacked their vehicle, deputies said. The female stabbing victim was transported to the hospital by the Orange County Fire Authority in critical condition.
Melendrez then fled the neighborhood driving onto Lake Forest Drive and Muirlands Blvd. Law enforcement officials said he was driving erratically into oncoming traffic, when he struck a pedestrian who was walking on the sidewalk. The felony hit-and-run collision occurred on Muirlands Blvd. The pedestrian, a female in her 50s, was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
The suspect then drove onto Aspan Street where he collided with another vehicle. After the crash he fled the scene, running into a trailer park across Muirlands Blvd. Deputies said he unsuccessfully attempted to break into a residence. From there, he allegedly attempted to carjack multiple vehicles on Muirlands Blvd. A cyclist passing the scene pepper sprayed the suspect and deputies arrived on scene and arrested him.
According to the sheriff's office, it was a total of nine minutes from the time dispatch received the first call to the time when the suspect was in custody.
Melendrez was transported to the hospital prior to being booked into Orange County Jail. He was booked into Orange County Jail on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, carjacking, and two attempted carjackings. He is being held in lieu of a $2 million bail.