Random acts of violence are one of the most frightening experiences anyone can experience. Two Orange County women are in the hospital after a perfect stranger took out his frustrations on them in Lake Forest on Wednesday.
The Orange County Register reports that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a man in connection to a violent crime spree that lasted approximately 10 minutes. According to Lt. Chad Taylor, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department, investigators don’t believe the attack was calculated and appeared to be random.
The suspect has been identified as James Carlos Menendez, 25, of Anaheim. Menendez got into a fight near Mercury Road and Rockfield Boulevard and fled the scene to go into an apartment that was not his. He was then confronted by the resident and ran into the backyard of a home. He broke into the house by smashing a window where a woman and her two daughters were inside. The woman, Marylou Villalobos-Palos, screamed and ran outside of the house to distract him away from her two daughters.
According to the woman’s sister who had also been inside the home, Villalobos-Palos ran until she fell. Menendez caught up to her and stabbed her repeatedly. He was stopped by a group of Good Samaritans in a BMW who stopped to help Villalobos. Instead, Menendez turned on them and began chasing them, Menendez then stole their vehicle. Villalobos is in the hospital recovering from the attack.
Menendez drove erratically through traffic, sometimes in the wrong lane until he drove the BMW over the curb and onto the sidewalk on Muirlands Boulevard, striking a woman in her 50’s. She was left critically injured but is expected to survive.
Menendez crashed the stolen BMW into another vehicle and then fled on foot into another residential area. There, he attempted to break into yet another home. Failing to gain entrance, he ran back into traffic to attempt another carjacking. One of the vehicles was occupied by a mother and her children.
A bicyclist who had witnessed the incident sprayed Menendez with pepper spray several times. Blinded, Menendez sat down on the ground. Eventually, police came to place him under arrest. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained during the series of incidents.
The incident is still under investigation. It is uncertain whether Menendez was impaired at the time.