RACING

Former NASCAR driver Bobby East was killed after stabbing a gas station in California, officials say

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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 an encounter with police who attempted to arrest him at an apartment complex, Westminster Police said.

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Bobby East poses for a photo during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series media day at Daytona International Speedway in 2006.Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Police were called shortly before 6 p.m. to a gas station in Westminster, a town in Orange County, and found East with a stab wound to the chest, the department said in a statement.

East, 37, was taken to a trauma center, where he died from his injuries, officials said.

Westminster Police detectives have identified Orange County parolee Trent William Milsap as a suspect.

When the West County SWAT team went to an apartment complex in Anaheim on Friday to serve an arrest warrant, Milsap “became confrontational,” a police dog was deployed, and Milsap was ultimately killed during of a shootout with police, the department said.

The motive for the attack that killed East was not known, police said Saturday.

Westminster police initially described Milsap as a passenger known to frequent hotels in Westminster as well as around Garden Grove and Anaheim. An earlier press release about the attack spelled the suspect’s surname as Millsap and said he was 27.

He was on parole for armed robbery and a warrant had been issued for his arrest for an unrelated parole violation, police said.

In their statement, Westminster Police said East had been identified as a former NASCAR driver.

The Westminster Department said East was from San Dimas, a town in eastern Los Angeles County.

Early Saturday night, NASCAR issued a statement acknowledging the death of one of its own.

“NASCAR is saddened to learn of the tragic death of Bobby East,” the stock car racing sanctioning body said. “We send our deepest and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bobby, a true runner.”

East competed in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series in 2005, 2007 and 2008, according to racing-reference.info, which tracks NASCAR records. He also raced in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series in 2005, 2006 and 2008, the site says.

He earned his driving chops in several United States Auto Club, or USAC, races and series. USAC said in a statement Saturday that East has won 22 USAC Midget National races, has 56 overall wins in USAC-sanctioned races and holds three USAC National titles, the last in 2013.

His team at the time was Tony Stewart Racing, led by NASCAR legend Tony Stewart, NASCAR noted.

He also drove for RFK Racing (formerly known as Roush Fenway Racing), which tweeted On Saturday, “Our team is incredibly sad to hear today’s news regarding Bobby East.”

“The news of this murder is tragic and untrue,” said Brad Keselowski, owner of NASCAR Cup champion RFK Racing. tweeted. “He and his family were true runners. 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 car builder Bob East and his wife Janice.

Bobby East’s first career triumph with the USAC National Midgets in 2001 made him the organization’s youngest national winner at the time, USAC said. He was 16 years old.

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 is unclear why he was in Westminster, about 33 miles south of San Dimas.

“Very sad to learn of the tragic incident involving Legend USAC driver Bobby East,” said two-time NASCAR champion Todd Bodine. tweeted. “He was one hell of a helmsman. Thoughts and prayers to his family.”

The California Attorney General’s office is tasked by state law with investigating fatal shootings involving officers.

Christian Santana and Dustin Long contributed.

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