Tragedy struck the racing world recently when professional race car driver Bobby East was fatally stabbed at a Southern California gas station. The alleged killer later died in a police shooting when authorities attempted to arrest him.
The suspect, Trent William Milsap, a drifter, was identified as a primary suspect in the fatal stabbing. He ultimately was a victim of a deadly shooting by police, according to a news release from the Westminster, California, Police Department.
Last Wednesday evening, police responded to the gas station and discovered East suffering from a wound to the chest. However, he later died of his injuries.
I have the best memories of working with Bobby East. In an open wheel car, there was no one better. So sorry to hear the news today. My love and thoughts are with his parents Bob and Janice, and the entire East family. Race in peace Bobby 🏁 pic.twitter.com/jNh8RFuwPL
— Charles Krall (@ChasKrall) July 15, 2022
“Officers attempted life saving measures until OCFA paramedics arrived and transported the victim to a local trauma center, where the victim succumbed to his injury,” police said in a statement.
The racing world immediately reacted to the loss of one of their own.
East was one of the “most prolific drivers of his era,” the United States Auto Club said in a statement. Additionally, East had 56 USAC-sanctioned feature victories and three USAC national driving titles.
A native of Torrance, California, East was a three-time US Auto Club (USAC) champion, winning the SAC Silver Crown championships in 2012 and 2013. His father, Bob East, Sr., is one of the most renowned vehicle constructors and team managers in USAC racing history.
A friend of mine, Noyce Naylor, had introduced me to Bob and Bobby East at the 2004 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway. Noyce had helped Bob during his days with CRA. Here is a photo of Noyce, Bob, and Bobby from that day. pic.twitter.com/16OQYE04OT
— Lance Jennings (@ljennings91) July 16, 2022
East, Sr., is also a noted short-track car builder, having won USAC’s National Midgets title in 2004 and Silver Crown championships in 2012 and 2013. He had 56 USAC-sanctioned feature victories, 48 of them in national divisions.
In 2001, East, Jr., became the youngest driver to win a feature USAC National Midget race when he was only 16. He also won 15 USAC races in 2004 and soon dabbled in a short NASCAR career. He made 11 career starts in what is now NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and had two top-10 finishes in 31 career Truck Series races.
“NASCAR is saddened to learn of the tragic death of Bobby East,” NASCAR said in a statement. “We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bobby, a true racer.”
Trent Milsap a homeless man, shot and killed by police after he fatally stabbing Bobby East in Westminster, Ca. pic.twitter.com/bCiRKkmr7f
— #SlavaUkraine 🙏 🇺🇦 (@NoelinSD) July 17, 2022
Other racers chimed in on the impact of the loss.
“Very sad to hear of the tragic incident involving Legend USAC driver Bobby East. He was one heck of a wheelman,” tweeted former Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.
A SWAT team was deployed to retrieve Milsap, citing “the level of violence he had been exhibiting,” according to police. Police claim he became confrontational when authorities attempted to arrest him, and he was shot.
A police K-9 deployed at the scene also sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound, police said.
“At the time of the officer involved shooting, Milsap was on parole for armed robbery and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for an unrelated parole violation,” police said.
Milsap later died at a hospital.
Although the motive in the stabbing of East is unknown, police did say that bystanders saw the two arguing before the confrontation became fatal.