7-Eleven shooter ended a life that had just turned around

Officials investigate after officers found two victims with gunshot wounds following a robbery at a 7-Eleven in La Habra, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)

Combined ShapeCaption
Officials investigate after officers found two victims with gunshot wounds following a robbery at a 7-Eleven in La Habra, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP)

Police are seeking a lone gunman wanted for six robberies at Southern California 7-Eleven stores where two people were killed and three wounded

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After years of addiction, Matthew Hirsch was sober. He landed a stable job working overnight shifts at a 7-Eleven in Southern California, lived with his girlfriend in a nearby apartment and spoke to his father every day.

Around 4:15 a.m. Monday, a masked shooter gunned down the 40-year-old clerk inside the convenience store. Authorities say it was one of six robberies by the same man at 7-Eleven stores across the region, senseless attacks that left two dead and three wounded.

The tragedy left Hirsch's father reeling on Tuesday. Jim Hirsch had long feared his son's death would come from another heroin overdose.

“I’d walk into his room at night and see needles,” Hirsch told The Associated Press. “Do I throw him out to die under a bridge? Or let him overdose in the house?"

Still, he always had an open-door policy for “Matt” at the home where his son grew up. Matt eventually sobered up as "he slowly straightened himself out” more than a year ago, his father said. He began working at the 7-Eleven in Brea about six months ago, juggling his job and his recovery.

Jim Hirsch was glad his son was employed but worried about him working alone late at night.

“He hadn’t had time to enjoy a normal life,” his father said. “He goes through a struggle for goodness and it ends in a shooting.”

The robberies occurred in a five-hour span early on Monday. Following the deadly robberies, 7-Eleven Inc. urged Los Angeles-area stores to close Monday and Tuesday nights for safety.

Investigators aren't sure what led to Hirsch’s death in Brea, or what sparked the robberies in Ontario, Upland, Riverside, Santa Ana and La Habra. Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback said it doesn't seem coincidental that 7-Eleven was targeted on July 11 — or 7/11, the day when the company celebrates its anniversary.

Hirsch was shot to death after authorities believe the gunman earlier gravely wounded a customer in Riverside and then fatally shot Matthew Rule, 24, outside a Santa Ana store. After those three shootings, the suspect then shot two people at a store in La Habra before disappearing.

Rule’s aunt said his mother was too distraught Tuesday to speak to a reporter.

Armed robberies also occurred at stores in Ontario and Upland shortly before the shootings. Authorities in those cities on Tuesday confirmed that the crimes they were investigating are linked to the crimes at the other locations.

Authorities in Ontario, Brea and Upland shared images of a masked man wearing what appeared to be the same black sweatshirt with a hood over his head. The sweatshirt had white lettering with green leaves on the front.

The first robbery happened around midnight in Ontario, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Then, about 45 minutes later, a gunman stole a few items and $400 to $500 in cash from a store in the neighboring city of Upland. About an hour later, the Riverside store was robbed and a customer shot and gravely wounded.

Another shooting occurred around 3:20 a.m. in Santa Ana. There, officers found Rule dead in the 7-Eleven parking lot. The victim did not work at the store, and surveillance video shows the suspect dropping items — believed to be the victim’s belongings while fleeing, police said.

About 40 minutes later, Hirsch was fatally shot and less than an hour later officers discovered two gunshot victims at a store in nearby La Habra. Those two victims are expected to survive.

___

News Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed.

Combined ShapeCaption
In this image from video released by the Brea Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California ,Monday, July 11, 2022. At least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (Brea Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

In this image from video released by the Brea Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California ,Monday, July 11, 2022. At least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (Brea Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
In this image from video released by the Brea Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California ,Monday, July 11, 2022. At least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (Brea Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
In this image from video from a 7-Eleven store in Upland, Calif. released by the Upland Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California, Monday, July 11, 2022. (Upland Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

In this image from video from a 7-Eleven store in Upland, Calif. released by the Upland Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California, Monday, July 11, 2022. (Upland Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
In this image from video from a 7-Eleven store in Upland, Calif. released by the Upland Police Department is a person that police are attempting to identify in connection with two people who were killed and three who were wounded in shootings at four 7-Eleven locations in Southern California, Monday, July 11, 2022. (Upland Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
Police investigate a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Police investigate a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Combined ShapeCaption
Police investigate a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Combined ShapeCaption
This undated photo provided by the Santa Ana Police Department shows Matthew Rule, 24, of Santa Ana, Calif., who was fatally shot on July 11, 2022 during a robbery in a 7-Eleven parking lot in the city of Santa Ana. Police across Southern California were seeking a lone gunman Tuesday, July 12, 2022, who is wanted in connection with at least three — but possibly as many as six — robberies at 7-Eleven stories where two people were killed and three were wounded. (Santa Ana Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

This undated photo provided by the Santa Ana Police Department shows Matthew Rule, 24, of Santa Ana, Calif., who was fatally shot on July 11, 2022 during a robbery in a 7-Eleven parking lot in the city of Santa Ana. Police across Southern California were seeking a lone gunman Tuesday, July 12, 2022, who is wanted in connection with at least three — but possibly as many as six — robberies at 7-Eleven stories where two people were killed and three were wounded.  (Santa Ana Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
This undated photo provided by the Santa Ana Police Department shows Matthew Rule, 24, of Santa Ana, Calif., who was fatally shot on July 11, 2022 during a robbery in a 7-Eleven parking lot in the city of Santa Ana. Police across Southern California were seeking a lone gunman Tuesday, July 12, 2022, who is wanted in connection with at least three — but possibly as many as six — robberies at 7-Eleven stories where two people were killed and three were wounded. (Santa Ana Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
Police crime scene tape closes off a parking area following a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Police crime scene tape closes off a parking area following a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Combined ShapeCaption
Police crime scene tape closes off a parking area following a shooting at a 7-Eleven store in Brea, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Police say two people have been killed and three have been wounded in pre-dawn shootings at four Southern California 7-Eleven stores. Authorities said Monday that at least three of the four shootings are believed to be linked to the same lone gunman. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Credit: Eugene Garcia

Combined ShapeCaption
Authorities remove a body from a 7-Eleven after a clerk was fatally shot on Monday, July 11, 2022, during a robbery in Brea, Calif. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

Credit: Mindy Schauer

Authorities remove a body from a 7-Eleven after a clerk was fatally shot on Monday, July 11, 2022, during a robbery in Brea, Calif. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

Credit: Mindy Schauer

Combined ShapeCaption
Authorities remove a body from a 7-Eleven after a clerk was fatally shot on Monday, July 11, 2022, during a robbery in Brea, Calif. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

Credit: Mindy Schauer

Credit: Mindy Schauer

Combined ShapeCaption
In this photo released by the Ontario Police Department is a person police are seeking in connection with a robbery at a 7-Eleven store in Ontario, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Ontario Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

In this photo released by the Ontario Police Department is a person police are seeking in connection with a robbery at a 7-Eleven store in Ontario, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Ontario Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Combined ShapeCaption
In this photo released by the Ontario Police Department is a person police are seeking in connection with a robbery at a 7-Eleven store in Ontario, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Ontario Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited