Former NASCAR driver Robert “Bobby” East was fatally stabbed Wednesday at a Southern California gas station, authorities said.
The stabbing suspect was killed two days later during a meeting with police who were trying to arrest him in an apartment complex, Westminster police said.
Police were called to a gas station in Westminster, a city in Orange County, shortly before 6 p.m. and found East with a stab wound to his chest, the department said in a statement.
East, 37, was taken to a trauma center, where he died of his injuries, officials said.
Westminster police detectives identified an Orange County parole officer, Trent William Milsap, as the suspect.
When the West County SWAT team went to an apartment complex in Anaheim on Friday to issue an arrest warrant, Milsap was “confronted”, a police dog was deployed and Milsap was eventually killed in a shootout with police, the department said.
The motive for the attack that killed East is unknown, police said on Saturday.
Westminster Police initially described Milsap as a passerby who regularly visits hotels in Westminster and in nearby Garden Grove and Anaheim. An earlier press release about the attack spelled the suspect’s last name as Millsap and said he was 27.
He was on parole for armed robbery and a warrant for his arrest had been issued for an unrelated violation of parole, police said.
In its statement, Westminster Police said East has been identified as a former NASCAR driver.
The Department of Westminster said East is from San Dimas, a city in eastern Los Angeles County.
NASCAR released a statement early Saturday night acknowledging the death of one of them.
“NASCAR is saddened to learn of Bobby East’s tragic death,” the stock car racing sanctions agency said. “We extend our deepest and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bobby, a true racer.”
East raced in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series in 2005, 2007 and 2008, according to race-reference.info, which tracks NASCAR records. He also raced in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series in 2005, 2006 and 2008, as the site states.
He earned his chops behind the wheel in multiple United States Auto Club, or USAC, races and series. USAC said in a statement on Saturday that East won 22 USAC National Midget feature races, took 56 victories at USAC-sanctioned races and has three USAC National titles, the last of which was in 2013.
His team at the time was Tony Stewart Racing, run by NASCAR legend Tony Stewart, NASCAR has noted.
He also raced for RFK Racing (once known as Roush Fenway Racing), which: tweeted Saturday: “Our team is incredibly saddened to hear today’s news about Bobby East.”
“The news of this murder is tragic and wrong,” RFK race owner Brad Keselowski, a NASCAR Cup champion, tweeted. “He and his family were true racers. Prayers for justice and peace.”
USAC, a sanctioning body for specific racing series such as National Sprint Cars, said East was the son of USAC Hall of Fame automaker Bob East and his wife Janice.
Bobby East’s first career win with the USAC National Midgets in 2001 made him the youngest winner of the organization’s national feature race at the time, USAC said. He was 16.
East was born in Torrance, a coastal town in Los Angeles County, but moved to Brownsburg, Indiana, to build his racing career, USAC said. It’s not clear why he was in Westminster, about 53 miles south of San Dimas.
“Very sad to hear of the tragic incident involving legendary USAC driver Bobby East,” two-time NASCAR Champion Todd Bodine tweeted. “He was a great cyclist. Thoughts and prayers for his family.’
The California Attorney General’s Office is charged with investigating fatal shootings by cops under state law.
Cristian Santana and Dustin Long contributed.