UPDATE, FEB. 28, 5:19 P.M.: U.S. Army Specialist Steven Matthew LeClaire Jr. was AWOL when he opened fire without provocation on three men Thursday night, according to prosecutors.
After allegedly killing his friend Marques Murray, 24, and wounding his father, Steven Francis LeClaire, 42, and friend Raymond Eligan, 52, LeClaire stepped out of the room at Cypress Lodge, raised his arms in the air and surrendered to the hotel manager, according to the Orange County district attorney's office statement on the next page.
February 28, 2011
AWOL ARMY SOLDIER CHARGED WITH MURDER OF FRIEND AND ATTEMPTED MURDER OF FATHER AND ANOTHER MAN IN HOTEL SHOOTING
SANTA ANA - An AWOL (absent without official leave) Army Specialist was charged today with murdering a friend and attempting to murder his father and another man in an unprovoked shooting at a Cypress hotel. Steven Matthew LeClaire Jr., 23, is charged with one felony count of murder, two felony counts of attempted murder, and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 90 years to life in state prison. LeClaire Jr. is being held on $1 million bail and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
In February 2011, LeClaire Jr. is accused of going AWOL from the US Army. He was last stationed in Texas.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2011, LeClaire Jr. is accused of being in a hotel room drinking and socializing with three other men at the Cypress Lodge on Lincoln Avenue. The other men included the victim's father, Steven LeClaire Sr., 42, and friends Marques Murray, 24, and Raymond Eligan, 51.
Without provocation, the defendant is accused of pulling out a firearm, pointing it at the three men, and firing the weapon multiple times. LeClaire Jr. is accused of murdering Murray by shooting him in the head and chest. He is accused of attempting to murder his father by shooting him several times in the stomach and back. He is accused of attempting to murder Eligan by shooting him in the legs as the victim attempted to escape into the bathroom. LeClaire Sr. and Eligan survived the attack.
After the shootings, LeClaire Jr. is accused of walking out of the hotel room, putting his arms in the air, and surrendering to a hotel manager who had walked outside upon hearing the shots. The defendant was arrested at the scene by the Cypress Police Department.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
UPDATE, FEB. 28, 4:40 P.M.: Police now say one of the men watching an NBA game on television in a room at Cypress Lodge Thursday night shot and killed Marques Murray and wounded two others, one of whom is the suspect's father.
Police said Steven Matthew LeClaire,
24, 23, was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday for the murder of Murray, 24, and attempted murder of Steven Francis LeClaire, 42, who was shot in the chest, and Raymond Eligan, 51, who took a bullet to his leg. However, the OCDA statement above reports the arraignment was this afternoon.
The younger LeClaire was being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 25, 12:49 P.M.: As he often does, Marques Murray went to Cypress Lodge Thursday night to watch an NBA game on television with two friends who live in the room-and-board motel on Lincoln Avenue.
At some point, a fourth man entered, shots were fired around 9:30 p.m., and police arrived to find 24-year-old Murray dead and his two friends suffering from gunshot wounds--one to his chest, the other to the leg.
The friends were taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where the man shot in the chest was reported in critical condition. The other man is expected to recover.
Police detained a fourth man they say had a handgun on him outside the lodgings at 5601 Lincoln Ave. He was arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
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The cop shop has so far not identified anyone involved in the shooting, but The Orange County Register learned Murray's identity from his stepfather.
Eileen Murray, the dead man's aunt, told the paper her nephew was taking culinary classes at Cypress College and working toward earning his GED. "He never liked guns," she reportedly said. "He was a fun-loving kid. This is not a way for a young man to go."