The gang member accused of stabbing and killing four people and wounding two more on Wednesday in Garden Grove, and Santa Ana, California, was arraigned yesterday.
Zachary Castaneda (shown), 33, was formally charged with four counts of murder, a count of attempted murder, and six other felonies in connection with a two-hours rampage that ended when he walked out of a 7-Eleven and surrendered.
He could get the death penalty. But the crime hasn’t received the same publicity as the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, because the suspect used a knife. Had he used a gun, the murders would be considered a mass shooting.
“Full Of Anger”
Castaneda began his rampage, police say, when he robbed and stabbed two men at his apartment in Garden Grove, just northwest of Santa Ana in Orange County. One died in his apartment; the other at the hospital.
Castaenda also robbed a bakery, but the owner was in her car charging her cell phone. She followed Castaneda into the store, but then ran for help to a dental office when he went for the cash register, she told Fox News. She told AP that he flashed a gun.
“I saved myself because I was in the car,” she told Fox. “Thank God I am alive.”
Castaneda took the register and fled, Fox reported.
As well, police say, he robbed an insurance business and stabbed a 54-year-old woman employee multiple times, then robbed a check-cashing business next door. He used “some sort of machete knives” on the woman, police said.
The Times posted horrifying video of the attack that depicts the woman's fight to save her life.
Then, AP reported, “Shortly after 6 p.m., the attacker drove up to a Chevron station, where he attacked a man pumping gas ‘for no reason,’ [police] said. ‘There was no robbery.’“
Castaneda, police allege, stabbed the man in the back and nearly cut off his nose.
Castaneda’s last victim was a security guard at the 7-Eleven.
Undercover detectives tracked Castaneda’s silver Mercedes to the parking lot of the 7-Eleven in Santa Ana and within a minute of their arrival, the suspect, who police said was covered in blood, walked out of the store, carrying a large knife and a gun that he had cut from the belt of a security guard he allegedly stabbed to death shortly before.
Police, who said the motive appeared to be “robbery, hate, homicide,” and that Castaenda was “full of anger,” have video of crimes.
A known gang member, Fox reported, Castaneda “has a long criminal history dating back to 2004, which includes convictions for child abuse, battery, car theft and prior drug offenses.”
He was also accused of assault and battery last year, but pleaded not guilty. It was not clear if or how that case was resolved.
In June of this year Castaneda was charged with eight counts of vandalism on behalf of a criminal street gang but pleaded not guilty.
Police had gone to Castaneda’s apartment, Fox reported, “to deal with a child custody issue” and his mother asked the cops how she could evict him.
As well, AP reported “court records show he was free on bail for a charge last month of carrying a concealed dagger,” and his “long criminal record includes prison stints for possession of meth for sale while armed with an assault rifle and car theft.”
He served about two years of a four-year sentence and was released on probation in January 2016, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
His arrest last month on charges of having a concealed dagger and drug charges came while he was on bail for his June arrest on charges of street gang vandalism.
Castaneda was convicted in 2009 of spousal abuse and paroled after serving about a year in prison, corrections officials said. He was released from parole in that case in 2014. ...
Court records show his wife, Yessica Rodriguez, sought a restraining order last year after she said Castaneda threw a beer can at her 16-year-old daughter. She said also sought an order against him in 2009 when he broke her arm during a fight.
Rodriguez filed for divorce earlier this year, court records show, and has custody of two sons, ages 7 and 12.
Castaneda’s stabbing spree was not as deadly or dramatic as others, but does show what a determined killer can do with a knife.
In 2014, a high school student in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, stabbed and slashed his way through school, wounding 20 students and a security guard.
Photo of Zachary Castaneda: Orange County District Attorney's Office via AP