A former NASCAR driver who enjoyed incredible success at the lower levels of auto racing was brutally stabbed to death at a California gas station this week.
Torrance, California native Bobby East, 37, was fatally stabbed Wednesday evening outside a 76 gas station in Westminster, ABC News reported.
Police officers and paramedics attempted to save East’s life but his wounds were too grievous and he ultimately passed away at a local hospital.
The alleged murderer was killed by police
According to ABC News, the suspected killer of East was identified as Trent William Millsap, 27, who fled the scene before the arrival of police.
Millsap was a known transient in the area who was considered armed and dangerous and was out on parole for armed robbery with an outstanding arrest warrant for a separate parole violation.
Per a news release Friday, Westminster Police learned of Millsap’s whereabouts and a SWAT team attempted to serve an arrest warrant. An altercation ensued, however, and Millsap was shot dead by the police. No officers were wounded except for a K-9 that suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Successful USAC driving career
Autoweek reported that East was a three-time champion driver in the United States Auto Club series of racing who also briefly competed in the lower levels of NASCAR, with 31 career starts in the Camping World Truck Series and 11 career starts in the Xfinity Series.
The son of USAC Hall of Fame car builder Bob East, he began driving in the USAC series in 2001 and became the youngest driver to win a race at that time at 16 and was named the USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year. His final start came in 2014 in the USAC Silver Crown Series.
East would go on to win 56 USAC events, including 48 in the club’s national divisions, and won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 while racing for a team owned by NASCAR legend Tony Stewart in the USAC Silver Crown Series.
He also held the distinction of winning the last USAC race on a one-mile track, the Milwaukee Mile in 2005, and became only the ninth driver ever to win races on both dirt and pavement in USAC’s top three divisions: National Midget, National Sprint Car, and the Silver Crown.
Why did this happen and why was a wanted criminal out on parole?
According to ABC News, no motive is known for the fatal stabbing of East by Millsap, and investigations have been opened into both the murder of East as well as the officer-involved shooting of Millsap while the arrest warrant was served.
Hopefully, the investigations will help reveal why a wanted career criminal known to be armed and dangerous was allowed out in public, and though that information will likely be of little solace to East’s family and friends, it may help prevent similarly unnecessary tragedies from occurring in the future.