A man killed seven people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a seven-week period during shooting rampages in which at least some victims may have been targeted at random, authorities say. The killings began in Elizabeth, NJ, on May 18 and ended 70 miles away in Pennsylvania on Sunday, when three people were shot in the middle of the night, two as they sat in a car. Todd West, 22, of Elizabeth, was arrested Monday by police in Allentown, Penn., who spotted him and an accomplice who matched the descriptions of two men wanted for robberies earlier in the day, prosecutors say. The police work "may have prevented more people from being killed, potentially, because it's pretty apparent that these guys meant business," says a DA in Northampton County, where one of the killings occurred.
West faces charges including seven counts of homicide and one count of attempted murder. Prosecutors say his first victim was a cousin; three other victims were killed—including a man known to West, per the New York Times—and one was injured June 25 in Elizabeth; police have found no links between the victims. "Nothing other than random at this point," says the DA. The office of a NJ prosecutor who calls the killings a "horrific event" says a motive is unclear; there is no evidence that drugs, gang activity, or robbery played a role. Police say West, previously convicted of theft and drug charges, confessed to killing three people during the middle of the night in Pennsylvania after his arrest Sunday. A local man West said purchased ammunition used in the Pennsylvania shootings and a Newark man he said drove him to both crime scenes have also been charged.