SANTA ANA – The mother of a 20-year-old who authorities say went on a killing, carjacking and shooting spree across Orange County last week, leaving four dead, appeared in court Monday in her own hit-and-run case.
Sarwat Syed, 43, and her family is “searching for answers themselves, and they’re searching for meaning themselves in these tragic events,” said her attorney Vincent LaBarbera Jr. after Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett set another pretrial date for Syed for April 15.
Authorities say her son Ali Syed, 20, carried out last week’s rampage that began at his parents’ Ladera Ranch home and ended in Orange when he killed himself. A motive for the Feb. 19 crimes has remained elusive.
“The Syeds are victims in this case just as much as other people are victims,” said LaBarbera, after Sarwat Syed made a 60-second appearance, hiding her face with tissue and leaving immediately afterward with a hood pulled over her head as television cameras tried to catch a glimpse of her. “I know we all try to seek a meaning. We all try to connect the dots.”
His client and her husband have been trying to make sense of the events, the defense attorney said.
“They’re at a loss to understand what happened,” LaBarbera said.
“Their son was a gentle boy,” the couple has told him, he said. “He never appeared to be somebody who had any violent tendencies. He was a loving son. They’re absolutely stunned.”
In her unrelated case, Sarwat Syed is accused of leaving the scene of a June 20, 2011, crash on northbound 405 freeway near Laguna Canyon Road. If convicted of felony hit-and-run, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
Ava O’Connor, 4, of Orange, who was a passenger in the other car, underwent a nine-hour operation to fix her jaw, upper palate, eye sockets and nose, her father said then. She was in a coma for 12 days and spent nearly a month in a hospital.
Robert O’Connor, who also attended Monday’s hearing, said he screamed when he heard Sarwat Syed’s name on the news in connection with last week’s rampage.
“It sent shivers up my spine that it’d be the same family,” he said.
His daughter, now 6, is getting better, is in first grade, goes to dance practice, but has had four or five surgeries so far, O’Connor said.
“It was chilling to hear (Sarwat Syed’s) voice in a 911 call,” he said.
In a frantic 911 call authorities released last week, Syed sounded out of breath as she reported hearing a gunshot in her home while an alarm is heard in the background.
“Our hearts go out to families who were devastated by last week’s massacre,” O’Connor said. “Our daughter’s a different case. We don’t want those people forgotten.”
By VIK JOLLY/ ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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