An 18-year-old man was killed and another man wounded in a shootout early Friday outside a Denny's restaurant in Anaheim, marking the third fatal shooting in as many days at one of the chain's restaurants in California.
On Wednesday, a transient went on a shooting spree in a Pismo Beach Denny's, killing two and wounding a couple before turning the gun on himself. On Friday, authorities were still investigating a motive.
A day later, a 37-year-old Pomona man was fatally shot in the parking lot of a Denny's in Ontario. The gunman remained at large Friday.
Officials for the South Carolina-based Denny's Corp. released a statement Friday calling the three unrelated events "most unfortunate and tragic. Our heart goes out to the victims and their families," the statement said.
Friday's shooting in Anaheim occurred about 2:45 a.m. in the 2000 block of Katella Avenue near Angel Stadium.
An argument that began at a nearby nightclub between two large groups of people spilled over to the Denny's as the late-night crowd gathered there, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez. The altercation escalated into a shootout in the parking lot.
It wasn't immediately clear what triggered the dispute, but Martinez said detectives were investigating reports that a member of one group accused someone from the other group of stealing. Martinez said authorities did not believe gangs were involved. The nightclub, called the Boogie, was the scene of another shooting last weekend in which a woman was wounded.
More than a dozen shots were fired early Friday, Martinez said. One victim went back into the restaurant after being shot, collapsed and died in the foyer. The other victim, in his early 30s, was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive. Police declined to release their names.
Joe Rail, 49, of Los Angeles said he and his dog were asleep in his car when he heard the gunshots.
"I thought it was fireworks," Rail said. After a pause, he heard a second round of shots, people yelling, and then the screeching of tires as people fled -- all in less than two minutes, he said.
Numerous shell casings and a handgun were found at the scene, but investigators weren't sure if the gun was used in the shooting.
On Friday afternoon, the restaurant remained closed as investigators scanned the parking lot and dusted the restaurant doors for fingerprints. Dried blood was visible on a door and flattened cardboard boxes covered the floor where the victim who died had lain bleeding.
Tony Marquez, 52, was there to help a coworker unload a delivery of groceries to Denny's when he learned about the shooting. "It's open 24 hours," he said of the restaurant, "and they've just got all the bad luck."