The Swift Capture of the 7-Eleven Spree Killers Shows What Taking Crime Seriously Looks Like

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

At 1:10 p.m. on Friday, a joint task force made up of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Ana Police Department, the Fullerton Police Department, the Brea Police Department, and investigators from the Orange County District Attorney Bureau of Investigations apprehended 20-year-old Malike Patt, and 44-year-old Jason Payne in connection with the July 11, 7-Eleven serial robberies and murders in Ontario, Upland, Riverside, Santa Ana, Brea, and La Habra.


The fact that these suspects were apprehended within FIVE days of the commission of the crimes is highly unusual, if not unprecedented. The coordination of agencies across the counties, and community involvement, including a $100,000 bounty for information leading to the killers, was pivotal in the apprehension and arrests.

From CBS News:

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with a violent robbery spree earlier this week at several 7-Eleven stores in Southern California in which two people were killed and three others wounded.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced one arrest Friday afternoon, according to CBS Los Angeles. The Brea Police Department later announced a second arrest.

In a news briefing Friday evening, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin identified the two suspects as 20-year-old Malike Patt and 44-year-old Jason Payne, both of Los Angeles. Patt is believed to be the primary suspect responsible for the robberies, Valentin said. Payne’s role in the crimes is unclear.

The two were arrested together in L.A. at about 1:10 p.m. on Friday, Valentin said. One of the suspects was injured during the arrest and taken to a hospital for treatment.

All of the agencies involved in taking down the 7-11 Spree Killers held a press conference on 5:00 p.m. on Friday in Santa Ana, California.

Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin laid out the facts of the spree, and talked about the suspects who were apprehended. Twenty-year-old Patt seemed to be the primary subject behind the murder-robberies, while the forty-four year old Payne’s involvement was stated to be unclear at this point.


Valentin outlined the timeline from July 11:

  • 12:11 a.m. armed robbery at the 7-Eleven in Ontario
    1:35 a.m. armed robbery at the 7-Eleven in Upland
    1:50 a.m. armed robbery and attempted murder shooting at the 7-Eleven in Riverside
    3:03 a.m. armed robbery at Yum Yum Donuts in Santa Ana
    3:25 a.m. a murder/shooting at the 7-Eleven in Santa Ana
    4:18 a.m. at the 7-Eleven in Brea
    4:55 a.m. armed robbery and murder at the 7-Eleven in La Habra

According to ATF Special Agent in Charge Monique Villegas, the investigation covered extensive work from various agencies, and she stated that the Orange County Violent Crime Task Force was formed five years ago for just this purpose: to pursue and solve violent serial robberies across the Southland.

Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento expressed his sympathies and condolences to those who have lost their lives.

“This crime spree received national attention, regional attention because of the depravity and the randomness of the act. It chilled, really our communities.”

Sarmiento praised Chief Valentin, his staff, and his officers.

“[they] know how important it is for many of us, and especially the families to have closure, to have justice, and to have some solace. And we know that this can’t undo the crimes that have been enacted against our communities, but what is does is it gives a sense of at least finality. And so, I am certainly grateful for all the work that has been done up here from all the agencies.”


This is a stark contrast to Los Angeles County and their District Attorney George Gascòn, whose soft-on-crime directives, and coddling of criminals in the name of reform has him under threat of recall. Gascòn’s most recent action is disbanding the Lifer Unit, which informs and aids victims and their families when a convict has a parole hearing or may receive early release. Gascòn’s special directives have stripped crime victims of any closure, and only serve to re-victimize and traumatize those families that only seek finality and justice.

It is refreshing to see that this will not be the case here with the 7-Eleven Spree suspects.

Thanks to the task force formed as a result of this 7-Eleven Spree, other crimes that once appeared random, are now being connected to the suspect, Malike Patt.

Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Alan Hamilton said in the press conference that a July 9 shooting that occurred in the San Fernando Valley may be linked to the suspect and that Patt may be responsible for several more crimes in the Los Angeles area.

“We believe there are a number of crimes throughout the L.A. region that will also be linked back to this suspect,” Hamilton said.

During Q&A, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer responded to questions and put a distinctly human face on the victims who lost their lives.

“This was a reign of terror. To be thinking that you go to a convenience store, a donut shop, or a sandwich shop, and to get shot in the face. To call your loved ones with your last gasps for breath,” he said.

“Or to be a clerk behind the cash register just helping another customer. Because you’re working a job, and you’re trying to get back on your feet because you’ve been through the school of hard knocks, you’ve been an addict. You’re working at 7-11 because they’ve given you a chance to resurrect your life. And then somebody comes in and feigns a transaction and shoots you and kills you.”


This is another stunning contrast with the Los Angeles District Attorney, who never met a criminal he didn’t like or a victim he didn’t malign.

The lion’s share of these crimes occurred in Orange County, and Spitzer made campaign promises that he would not go soft on crime. Spitzer discussed potential preliminary charges against Malike Patt.

“God bless law enforcement, and quite frankly God bless these victims because the journey is over with respect to the detention of these suspects but for [the victims] the journey has just begun.


“There are murder, attempted murder, robbery charges, some are still outstanding and potentially widespread. We need to connect a lot of dots.

“But the murder in Brea at the 7-Eleven, and the murder in Santa Ana we plan to file those charges by as soon as Monday. Murder with premeditation and deliberation while in commission of a felony. Which is a special circumstances which ensures that the primary suspect will have no bail. And so while the public, now as we heard from Chief Hawley, should rest and understand that these individuals have been taken into custody, they need to know that the disposition at least on this primary suspect, we want to make sure he has no chance of being released.”


Had the public been present, you no doubt would have heard uproarious cheers and clapping. That violent felons are treated as dangerous elements who should not be released on bail is something that has fallen out of favor, and it is obvious that Spitzer plans to bring it back.

“So, I plan to work with, and I’ve already talked to my counterparts, district attorneys in San Bernardino Jason Anderson, Mike Hestrin in Riverside. I’ve been talking to Los Angeles officials, and we’ve already had some preliminary conversations about how we’re going to coalesce all these investigations and where we might prosecute them.”

According to California law, serial murders that occur across multiple jurisdictions are allowed to be prosecuted in one County. While Spitzer is coordinating with his fellow D.A.s, I suspect that the proceedings will end up in Orange County.

Public safety is back on the menu, and not a moment too soon.

The full 24-minute press conference.



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