Former NASCAR driver Bobby East killed in stabbing attack at California gas station

A suspect in the attack was fatally shot by police days later, authorities said.

July 16, 2022, 7:38 PM

Former NASCAR driver Bobby East was killed in a stabbing attack at a Southern California gas station, authorities said.

A suspect in the murder was fatally shot by police during the execution of an arrest warrant in connection with the homicide on Friday, authorities said.

The fatal stabbing occurred Wednesday evening in Westminster, in Orange County.

PHOTO: In this Feb 9, 2006 file photo Bobby East, driver of the #21 Ford during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series media day at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.
In this Feb 9, 2006 file photo Bobby East, driver of the #21 Ford during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series media day at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images, FILE

Officers responding to a report of a stabbing shortly before 6 p.m. local time at a 76 gas station found the victim on the ground with a "serious stab wound to the chest area," the Westminster Police Department said in a statement.

The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he died, police said. He was identified by the Westminster Police Department Saturday as Robert John East of San Dimas, California -- also known as Bobby East, a former NASCAR driver.

A primary suspect in the shooting, identified by police as 27-year-old Trent William Millsap, allegedly fled the area before police arrived. Police had warned that Millsap, who was on parole for armed robbery and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for an unrelated parole violation, should be considered armed and dangerous.

Police received information that the suspect, described as a transient "known to frequent Westminster, Garden Grove and Anaheim motels," was in an apartment in Anaheim and obtained a warrant for his arrest. Police requested the West County SWAT Team "due to the level of violence he had been exhibiting," police said.

During the execution of the warrant Friday, Millsap "became confrontational with officers and a police K-9 was deployed," police said. "Subsequently an officer involved shooting occurred."

Police did not say how many officers fired their weapon.

Millsap was transported to a hospital, where he died from his injuries, police said.

PHOTO: The Westminster Police Department released photos of suspect Trent William Millsap, 27.
The Westminster Police Department released photos of suspect Trent William Millsap, 27.
Westminster Police Department

No officers were injured, though a police K-9 sustained a non-threatening gunshot wound, police said.

The Westminster Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney's office and the Department of Justice are investigating the shooting, the Westminster Police Department said.

Wednesday's fatal stabbing is also under investigation. A motive in the attack is unknown, police said Saturday.

East, 37, was a three-time United States Auto Club National Champion and "one of the most prolific drivers of his era," the United States Auto Club said in a statement Friday announcing his passing. He captured the titles in 2004, 2012 and 2013.

The Torrance, California, native became the youngest United States Auto Club feature winner ever in 2001, when he won the USAC National Midget event at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Indiana, at the age of 16, the club said.

East competed in NASCAR national touring series races between 2005 and 2008.

He was the son of United States Auto Club Hall of Fame car builder Bob East.

The auto racing world remembered East following news of his death.

"Very sad to hear of the tragic incident involving Legend USAC driver Bobby East," two-time NASCAR champion Todd Bodine, an analyst for Fox Sports, said on Twitter Saturday. "He was one heck of a wheelman."

Charles Krall, a communications manager for ARCA, said he had "the best memories of working with Bobby East."

"In an open wheel car, there was no one better," Krall said on Twitter Saturday. "So sorry to hear the news today."

NASCAR said it was "saddened to learn of the tragic death of Bobby East."

"We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bobby, a true racer," the company said in a statement Saturday.

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