July 20, 2024
Malik Patt is accused of killing 3 people during a wave of Southern California robberies targeting convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

A Los Angeles man who admitted during a police interview to a string of shootings that left three people dead in the midst of a wave of robberies at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants across Southern California in 2022 was ordered by an Orange County Superior Court judge on Thursday to stand trial.

Malik Patt, 21, during a videotaped interview publicly shown for the first time in court this week, acknowledged carrying out a series of robberies, killings and attempted killings at 7-Eleven, Subway and doughnut stores in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Patt during the police interrogation didn’t give a clear motive for the killings, though he implied that race may have played a factor as to why he shot some people and not others. He initially denied knowing anything about the crimes, until detectives told him that family members had identified him from surveillance footage.

Patt acknowledged killing a homeless man outside a 7-Eleven he robbed in North Hills, a customer in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Santa Ana — identified by police as 24-year-old Matthew Rule — and a clerk in a 7-Eleven in Brea — later identified as 40-year-old Matthew Hirsch. He also admitted shooting and injuring a customer at a 7-Eleven in Riverside, and a clerk and customer at a 7-Eleven in La Habra.

Associate Defender Michael Hill, who is representing Patt, noted that during the the police interview Patt also claimed to have shot three other men in Los Angeles and Fullerton, despite detectives finding no proof that such potentially fatal attacks occurred. The defense attorney noted that was an indication that Patt may have been lying or exaggerating while talking to police.

Investigators in previous court filings have tied Patt to 16 robberies carried out during an increasingly violent rampage encompassing four separate mornings in July of 2022.

But Patt in the police interview said the robberies began much earlier, in January 2022, shortly after he returned to Southern California from an out of state college. Patt appeared to claim credit for dozens of robberies, which he said included check cashing businesses before he decided that it was easier to target convenience stores. It isn’t clear if authorities have confirmed whether or not Patt is actually suspected of carrying out the other robberies.

Patt gave detectives varying, often vague, explanations for how the robberies turned deadly.

“Why did people start getting shot?” a detective asked Patt. “Is it a thrill? Did they look at you the wrong way?”

“I don’t know,” Patt replied after a long pause. “It just happened.”

He referred to one of the customers he admitted shooting as “the devil,” and when asked why by detectives responded, “Because the White man is the devil.”

He described a clerk he admitted shooting and killing as “the (expletive) talker,” but didn’t specify what the man allegedly said, only explaining, “He said something ignorant, he didn’t know who he was (expletive) with.”

He said he tried to give the homeless man in North Hills money before the man made an unspecified comment that led him to fatally shoot him.

Patt also told detectives that he opted not to shoot a donut store worker in Santa Ana because the man appeared to be of Indian descent and, as Patt described it, “I don’t do stuff to my people.”

At one point, when asked by detectives if he would do it again, Patt seemed to attribute the killings to another persona, telling the investigators that “Malik Patt would not ever think of that (expletive), because my mother and my father raised me better than that.”

Patt said he burned a sweatshirt he wore during the fatal robberies — telling detectives, “Come on man, I got rid of that” — and said he discarded the gun, describing it as “long gone.”

Patt appeared calm for the bulk of the portions of the police interview that were played in court. But he grew animated when discussing his older co-defendant Jason Payne, a man Patt referred to by the affectionate term “uncle,” though authorities say they are not related.

Patt and Payne worked together making food deliveries through various apps, with Patt acting as the driver and Payne the delivery man. But Patt, in the police interview, was adamant that Payne was not with him during the robberies and shootings, adding that Payne “doesn’t condone (expletive) like that.”

“Keep my uncle out of this, he got nothing to do with nothing,” Patt told the detectives. “He can go home please. I’m gonna face my judgment alone.”

Payne later admitted that he was along for the ride during the deadly crime spree, though he also said he consumed a significant amount of marijuana and was often sleeping in the car, and authorities acknowledged he did not actually enter any of the businesses. Payne pleaded guilty earlier this year to robbery charges and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Surveillance footage of a black BMW spotted near one of the Santa Ana robberies eventually led investigators to Patt and Payne, ending a massive, multi-agency police search.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has taken the lead in prosecuting the three slayings. That includes the fatal shooting of the homeless man in Los Angeles County, which Orange County prosecutors have argued occurred during the same series of killings. Orange County DA Todd Spitzer has described Patt as a “stone-cold killer” who “executed people.”

At the end of the preliminary hearing held on Wednesday and Thursday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary S. Paer ruled that there is enough evidence for Patt to face jury trial on multiple counts of special circumstances murder, attempted murder and robbery, among other charges.

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