GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – A California police chief just lashed out over a controversial law that kept a gang member who went on a vicious killing spree in Garden Grove from being put back behind bars.
The bill is called AB 109 and it was passed back in 2011 to help reduce California’s prison population. The measure was to allow nonviolent and non-sex offender inmates to be released early from state prisons and then be supervised by local county probation officers.
But it also prevented felons who violated their parole from going back.
The suspect from Wednesday’s killings had reportedly already spent two years in prison for drug possession and weapons charges and had been jailed 14 times previously for multiple probation violations.
“This person should have been in prison, and not allowed to be in our community committing these violent acts,” Garden Grove Police chief Tom DaRé said. “As a police chief, I implore our policy makers to reevaluate their policies on criminal justice.”
Zachary Castaneda was arrested on Wednesday after murdering four people and severely wounding two others with ‘machete-knives’, police said.
The California Department of Corrections said that while the AB 109 bill did not release him from prison before he served his full sentence, it did prevent him from being sent back.
Garden Grove police said that AB 109 kept Castaneda from being sent back to prison because it did not jail people for a minimum of a year for parole violations, like the law had prior. Instead, AB 109 allowed Castaneda to be on probation as part of Post-Release Community Supervision, serving short stints in county jail each of the 14 times he violated parole, CBS 2 Los Angeles reported.
A report from KTLA 5 confirmed that the 33-year-old assailant allegedly stabbed a woman at an insurance business, two men at the Garden Grove apartment complex where he lived and a man at a gas station. The crimes spanned a period of two hours from Garden Grove to Santa Ana. They say that during the string of criminal activity, the suspect violently robbed his victims.
Police commented that he was “full of anger.”
Garden Grove CA-Hispanic 33yo man filled w Hate Rage Anger Kills 4 Hispanics Robs 8 stores in 2 hour Wave of Violent Carnage he Angrily Stabbed, Murdered, Slashed & Robbed—Weapon: Machete Knives @SpeakerPelosi @SenKamalaHarris @POTUS https://t.co/nZFYRFwhTe
— Que (@que_peace) August 8, 2019
The two men from the Garden Grove complex were killed, along with a security guard at a 7-11 convenience store and a Subway employee, police said.
The OC Register reported that Louis Chavez, 24, was putting air in his tire when he said he saw a man in a black hoodie walk up to the man pumping gas and, without a word, started hitting him. Chavez said the man slashed the other man’s face and stabbed him at least once in the shoulder.
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The woman from the insurance business and the gas station victim both survived their wounds, but the gas station attack was incredibly severe as the suspect nearly severed the victim’s nose from their face.
“This guy was armed with knives,” Whitney said about the woman inside the insurance business. “She fought as best she could.”
The wounded victims were transported to the hospital on Wednesday night and are expected to survive.
Police were able to step in and apprehend the suspect after he attacked people inside the 7-11 store. They were able to take him into custody without incident. Authorities say they have recovered security footage that showed some of the alleged attacks. It will be reviewed by investigators.
Four people have been killed and two injured in a stabbing/robbery spree in Garden Grove/Santa Ana. Cops say the attacks with machete-type knives appear to have been random. One guy almost had his nose cut off while trying to pump gas. A 33yo man has been arrested. @KFIAM640 pic.twitter.com/tn8lcXdgAI
— Corbin Carson (@CorbinCarson) August 8, 2019
The only motive stemmed from “robbery, hate, homicide,” Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney said on Wednesday night.
“We know this guy was full of anger and he harmed a lot of people tonight,” Whitney said.
Authorities also mentioned that the suspect and all of the victims were of Hispanic descent, but it was not related.
“These are all random acts of violence, our suspect was not connected to any of our victims,” Whitney said.
Whitney went on to praise the public for their assistance in helping victims.
“A lot of citizens came forward and rendered aid to the guy with his nose that was nearly severed off,” Whitney said. “They were willing to come forward and help the Police Department, give us information that was crucial in getting this guy identified and help this guy who was stabbed and sustained serious injuries. The public really stepped up to help this guy.”
Investigators say that Castaneda is not being cooperative.