Police alleged Wednesday that a son of an auto wrecking yard owner shot four people to death at the business, including at least one relative and two employees.
Panicked customers fled the busy yard Tuesday afternoon as the gunman shot his victims at close range, police said. The shootings were "very deliberate" and the suspect likely reloaded at least once, Santa Maria police Chief Danny Macagni said.
Lee Isaac Bedwell Leeds of Santa Maria was booked for investigation of murder and was held without bail. Police issued a news release saying witnesses at the scene identified the 31-year-old as the gunman.
At least one of those killed at Black Road Auto was related to Leeds, two were employees and the fourth victim appears to have been a customer of the business, investigators said. The wrecking yard is in the outskirts of Santa Maria, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
One victim was found in the junk yard's office and three outside. Police said at least 10 shots were fired in the attack, but no one else was hurt.
"There were a lot of customers on the property, and they were running outside," police Lt. Dan Ast said. "It was a pretty chaotic situation."
One of the victims found outside still had a pulse, Ast said. While police searched for the gunman, officers escorted paramedics onto the property to treat the victim, but he did not survive, Ast said.
Suspect in custody
Ast told reporters late Tuesday that the gunman "took off running, tried to get over a fence and was captured." The gunman discarded a semi-automatic handgun before he was taken into custody, and it was found later, police said.
"This is a case of workplace violence," Macagni said. "We have a lot of work to do here. We have a very large crime scene."
There was no telephone listing for a Lee Leeds in Santa Maria. A man who answered the phone at another residence under the name Leeds hung up when a reporter called seeking comment.
Santa Maria is a city of 92,000 people 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, in northwestern Santa Barbara County.