Man wanted in Livermore shooting linked to other homicides

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU) -- Police in three Northern California cities want to talk to 18-year-old Jason Alexander Brown in connection with three homicides.

Brown is armed and dangerous, authorities say, and he may have left a murderous path of destruction that began in Fresno, continued in Sacramento and ended up in Livermore. 

Police say two pairs of men, one from Oakland, the other from the Central Valley, wanted to conduct a criminal transaction and decided to meet in the middle.  And that ended up being the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy in downtown Livermore.

It was about 6 p.m. Saturday when the two groups met in front of the store at 1500 1st St. The victims were in a Toyota Corolla, the suspects in a BMW with red racing stripes on the hood.

But something went wrong, and one of the Oakland men pulled out a high-powered assault rifle and began firing at the victims as they sat in their car.

When it was over, a Latino man in his 20s was dead, and a second man was wounded. Late Monday, the two victims were identified. The deceased was identified as 32-year-old Jose A. Mendoza of Turlock. The other man, 22-year-old Ulizes Benitez of Turlock, remains in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital. 

The suspects fled the shopping center but were spotted by California Highway Patrol officers on 580. Somehow, they escaped.

But police identified one of the suspects, 18 year old Jason Alexander Brown, with the help of the license plate on his distinctive BMW.

Early Sunday morning, Livermore police and the Oakland police SWAT team surrounded Brown's home on Center Street in West Oakland. They didn't find him, but they located and impounded his BMW.

Police say this kind of violence in Livermore is relatively rare. Although they won't release a motive in the case, they do have an explanation as to why it happened in the city. 

"Livermore is the halfway point between Oakland and Stockton, it's right off I-580, and sometimes people meet in Livermore to conduct criminal offenses," said Livermore police Officer Ryan Sanchez.

"We believe this was an isolated incident involving two separate parties that didn't have any ties or connections to Livermore," Sanchez continued. "They chose Livermore as a meeting place."

Livermore police have a warrant out for Brown's arrest. And so do police in Fresno, who suspect him in the Sept. 12 shooting death of Albert Thao inside a restaurant.

Sacramento police are also investigating whether Brown can be linked to a homicide in the state capital in late September.

In Livermore, police say local residents shouldn't be worried.

"This is not very often that we have crimes of his magnitude in the city of Livermore," Sanchez said.

But some shoppers said they were unnerved by the violence.

"That is kind of scary because I come here a lot just to get groceries," said Francesca James.

Asked if she felt safe, James said, "For the most part. Livermore police are always out here. I just try not to stay out at night."

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