Crime Wave at 7-Eleven Stores in California Leaves 2 Dead, Police Say

The authorities were searching for the gunman who they believe is responsible for at least three shootings on a distinctive date: 7-11.

The crime scenes were all 7-Eleven stores.

A fifth store in the area was robbed of about $500 in cash.

Law enforcement officials were pondering what significance the date of the shootings and robberies — July 11, or 7-11 — might hold. On Monday, 7-Eleven was celebrating its 95th birthday by giving customers free Slurpee drinks.

“We don’t know if there’s any relation to today being July 11,” Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesman for the Riverside Police Department, said by phone. “Only the suspect can tell us that.”

The authorities were still searching for the gunman by late Monday afternoon.

Representatives of 7-Eleven did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Monday, but the company told CBS Los Angeles in a statement:

 “Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones. We are gathering information on this terrible tragedy and working with local law enforcement.”

The crimes spanned about four hours and covered a stretch of about 40 miles through Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, south and east of Los Angeles.

Early on Monday, a masked man armed with a handgun robbed a 7-Eleven in Ontario, the police said. About three miles away, at about 12:40 a.m., a man entered a 7-Eleven in Upland and aimed his gun at a clerk, demanding cash, Sgt. Jacob Kirk of the Upland Police Department said by phone. The gunman stole about $500, he said.

He added that it was a “possibility” that the man was the same one who had committed crimes at other 7-Elevens that day. “We’re working with some other agencies to try to figure that out,” Sergeant Kirk said.The Ontario Police Department said it was also investigating whether the robbery in Ontario was related to other incidents.