This time it’s murder.
A Huntington Beach bike rider has been killed after a rampaging driver appeared to intentionally target three people riding bicycles in less than an hour Sunday night.
That was followed half an hour later as a second man suffered minor injuries when he reported being deliberately sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver just a few blocks away on Edwards Street at Brad Drive.
Then as police were investigating that crash, a third victim who had been riding a bicycle was found lying in the street less than a mile away near Heil Avenue and Springdale Street around 10:45 pm, suffering from major injuries.
At this time, none of the victims have been identified.
Huntington Beach police investigators believe the same driver was responsible for all three crashes, in a single night of vehicular mayhem.
Witnesses describe the vehicle as appearing to be a black Toyota four-door sedan, which suffered significant damage to the front bumper on the passenger side.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Huntington Beach Police Department’s WeTip hotline at 714/375-5066; anonymous tips can be submitted to OC Crime Stoppers at 855/TIP-OCCS (855/847-6227).
This is at least the 35th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and fifth that I’m aware of in Orange County.
It also appears to be the second intentional murder of a bike rider in the county this year, following the February death of Dr. Michael John Mammone in Laguna Beach.
Update: KTLA-5 talks with another bike rider, who says he was also chased by a driver who tried to strike him on Sunday night. He had to ride between two cars to escape.
A neighbor who witnessed the fatal crash says the driver never slowed down after hitting the victim, and that the car may have been a Volvo rather than Toyota. So look for a black sedan with major damage to the right front.
They also report Huntington Beach police are struggling to identify the man who was killed.
Which is yet another reminder to always carry some form of ID with you. And preferably something that won’t be stolen if you become incapacitated, like a RoadID or some other form of wearable identification.
Update 2: Now two lives could be effectively ended.
KABC-7 reports police have arrested an unnamed juvenile for using a car as a weapon to attack at least three people riding bicycles, murdering a 70-year old man and injuring two others.
There’s no word on possible charges, but it’s likely the kid will face at least one felony murder count, as well as charges of assault with a deadly weapon. If he’s tried as a juvenile, he could be held until he turns 21; if the Orange County DA charges him as an adult, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
The victim has been identified as 70-year old Huntington Beach resident Steven Gonzales.
No motive has been announced for the attacks, but it could have been a copycat of the East Bay Area attacks from earlier this year, in which young people in stolen cars attempted to door or strike people riding bicycles or e-scooters.
The difference is, no one was killed then.
Update 3: According to The Daily Pilot, the boy was arrested Tuesday night on one count of homicide and and two counts os assault with a deadly weapon after they found the suspect’s vehicle in the 6000 block of Warner Ave.
He’s being held in OC Juvenile Hall.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steven Gonzales and all his loved ones.