Police: California man arrested after violent crime spree that included stabbing, carjackings

A California man was arrested after police said he went on a violent, nine-minute crime spree that included stabbing a woman, breaking into two homes and hitting a pedestrian with a stolen car.

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James Carlos Melendrez, 25, of Anaheim, was booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, carjacking and two attempted carjackings, The Los Angeles Times reported. His bail was set at $2 million.

The incident started around 5 p.m. Tuesday, when Melendrez got into a fight outside a Salvation Army store in Lake Forest, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Chad Taylor said in a news conference.

Melendrez then ran from the fight and forced his way into a nearby apartment, Taylor said. The two people inside the apartment chased Melendrez out.

Melendrez then entered a house through a back window, police said. A woman and her two daughters were home at the time. When Melendrez grabbed a knife from the kitchen, the mother ran from the home in an effort to lure him outside, The Orange County Register reported.

Melendrez chased the woman outside and down the street, then stabbed her several times when she fell, Taylor said. The woman was left in critical condition, according to The Orange County Register.

A group of people driving by in a white BMW stopped to help the woman. When they got out of the car, Melendrez -- still armed with a knife -- began chasing them and then stole the car, Taylor said.

"He was on drugs," Kelly Meyer, an occupant of the BMW, told CBS LA. "You could tell he was on something. His eyes were just weird, like they were looking through you. Just strange. He looked weird."

Melendrez drove erratically, police said, jumping a curb and hitting a woman who was walking on a sidewalk. She was critically injured but is expected to survive, The Orange County Register reported.

Melendrez drove off and collided with another vehicle, Taylor said. He then left the scene of the crash and attempted, unsuccessfully, to break into another house, the Times reported. Melendrez tried carjacking a few more drivers before a bicyclist stopped him with pepper spray, Taylor said.

Taylor said Melendrez didn’t know any of the victims, and that the crimes appear to be random.

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