Two people were arrested on Friday in connection with a string of robberies at 7-Eleven stores in Southern California this week in which two people were fatally shot and three others injured, the authorities said.
The arrests of the two people — who were not immediately identified by the Brea Police Department — ended a wide four-day search for those who had committed the crimes, in which the motive remained unclear. A news conference is scheduled for Friday evening.
The crimes occurred on Monday morning at six 7-Eleven stores, and all on the distinctive date of July 11, or 7-11, prompting questions of what significance the timing might have held. 7-Eleven had been celebrating its 95th birthday that day by giving customers free Slurpee drinks. Later this week, the company offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
The men who were killed were identified by the local authorities as Matthew Hirsch, 40, of La Habra, and Matthew Rule, 24, of Santa Ana.
John Rule, Matthew Rule’s father, said by phone on Friday that his son, who loved music and art and hoped to one day work in movie production, had been at a 7-Eleven store in Santa Ana on Monday morning to buy a drink for his girlfriend.
Matthew Rule had tried to protect a homeless man who was being robbed at gunpoint that day in the store’s parking lot, his father said. The Santa Ana Police Department said the gunman had shot Matthew Rule in his upper torso, killing him.
“He cared about people, and he hated people bullying others,” John Rule said. He added, “I just want to hug him one last time.”
The crimes spanned about five hours and covered a stretch of about 40 miles through Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, south and east of Los Angeles.
The police in the six cities where the crimes occurred had been searching for a masked gunman who had been wearing a distinctive hooded sweatshirt. It was not immediately clear who the second person arrested was, or what role that person may have had in the crimes.
Several Southern California stores closed in the wake of the shootings.
Shortly after midnight on Monday, a masked man 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 on Monday.
About an hour later, the first shooting occurred in Riverside, where the police found a man in his 40s bleeding from a gunshot wound inside a 7-Eleven. That person was taken to a hospital and survived.
By about 3:23 a.m., the gunman had traveled to Santa Ana, about 40 miles southwest of Riverside, and shot and killed Mr. Rule, the police said.
In Brea, a gunman shot and killed Mr. Hirsch, a 7-Eleven clerk, while trying to rob the store at about 3:30 a.m., the police said. About 20 minutes later, a gunman shot two people at a store in La Habra. Those victims were taken to a hospital, the police said.