Man charged in deadly, ‘random’ July 4 stabbings in California

The suspect in a Fourth of July knife attack that killed two people and injured three others in Southern California has been charged with murder.

Logan Kelley, 26, is charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of battery on a police officer, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

According to Orange County Sheriff’s Department inmate records, Kelley has been assigned counsel from the regional public defender’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

Police, on July 5, investigate stabbings that took place on July 4, in Huntington Beach, Calif.KNBC

He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. It wasn’t clear what transpired during the hearing or what happened at a previous one scheduled for Monday.

Prosecutors allege Kelley had been drinking and taking hallucinogenic drugs prior to the stabbing spree in Huntington Beach.

The suspect approached a group of Independence Day celebrants who were watching firecrackers being ignited in the street and started stabbing people randomly shortly after 11 p.m., prosecutors alleged.

The deceased were identified by the DA’s office as Eric Hodges, 42, who was stabbed in the heart, and William Collins, 47, who was stabbed in a lung and neck. The three injured victims, two 35-year-old men and the 65-year-old father of one of them, had been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, the office said.

“Kelley is not believed to have had any prior relationship with the group prior to the attack,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s office said.

Though the attack was described by Spitzer as happening amid “a day of celebrating America and all the freedoms we all enjoy,” the violence took place away from the city’s sanctioned Independence Day events, which included fireworks over the ocean, a Main Street parade and a block party along the same thoroughfare.

The location of the attack, given by authorities as the intersection of 16th Street and Pecan Avenue, is home to multifamily housing complexes away from the beach and business district.

Police and prosecutors have yet to say what they believe motivated the violence.

The murder charges carry with them special circumstance allegations which, if proven, could open a pathway to the death penalty or, at the least, life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has generally favored justice reform and sending fewer people to the state’s once overcrowded prisons, placed a moratorium on the death sentence in 2019 and ordered the state’s Death Row dismantled in 2022.

Spitzer, a Republican, said he nonetheless convenes a special committee to weigh pursuing death in each local case prosecuted with special circumstance murder allegations.

“We as Americans should be able to enjoy spending time with our friends and families without worrying about being brutally stabbed in the street in a random attack,” Spitzer said in his office’s statement.

Five counts of personal use of a deadly weapon in a felony were also included as sentencing enhancements that could add one year behind bars for each count, according to case records, state law and the district attorney’s office.

The battery and assault with a deadly weapon allegations stem from Kelley allegedly spitting on a responding officer and assaulting a teenage boy who was part of a group that detained him for police, the office said.

Kelley was being held without bond or bail.

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