Man Suspected of Killing Father, Brother, 2 Others Arrested in Canoga Park


CANOGA PARK (CNS) - A man suspected of carrying out a violent crime spree across the San Fernando Valley that left four people dead, including his father and brother, and two other people wounded was arrested today following a 12-hour manhunt.

Gerry Dean Zaragoza, 26, allegedly killed his 56-year-old father, Carlos, and his 33-year-old brother in Canoga Park, along with a woman -- possibly his ex-girlfriend -- at a North Hollywood gas station. Zaragoza is also suspected in an attempted robbery outside a bank in Canoga Park and another fatal shooting of a man aboard an Orange Line bus in Van Nuys.

The first shooting occurred about 1:50 a.m. at an apartment in the 21000 block of Roscoe Boulevard in Canoga Park, police said. Paramedics pronounced Zaragoza's father and brother dead at the scene and took his mother, a woman in her 50s, to a hospital in stable condition, according to police. The woman was shot in an arm, according to reports from the scene.

The second shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. at a gas station in the 6700 block of Vineland Avenue. Both victims, who worked at the gas station, were taken to a hospital, where the woman, who was in her 30s, was pronounced dead. The man was listed in critical condition, police said.

Police said Zaragoza was acquainted with the woman, with reports from the scene indicated she may have been the suspect's ex-girlfriend.

The names of the dead were not immediately released, although Zaragoza's father was identified by his boss, Michael Ramia.

``He told me (Gerry Zaragoza) was violent in the house. He was very violent,'' Ramia told reporters outside the Canoga Park apartment. ``And I told Carlos, I said, `Carlos, get rid of him, you know? Just take him to rehab.'

``Today was his day off,'' Ramia said. ``... He took the day off to get his eyes checked. He was in my office yesterday, and he (was) supposed to come to work tomorrow.''

About 7:20 a.m., an attempted robbery believed to have been committed by Zaragoza occurred outside a bank at Sherman Way and Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park, police said. The suspect allegedly pulled a handgun on a man about 40 years old, but he fled when he realized the victim had no money, police said.

At about 1:50 p.m., a person was fatally shot aboard an Orange Line bus at Victory Boulevard and Woodley Avenue in Van Nuys, and a suspect generally matching the description of Zaragoza was seen running from the scene. A man who was on the bus told reporters the suspect shot the victim in the head for no apparent reason.

Police said there appeared to be no relation between Zaragoza and the person killed on the bus, indicating that shooting may have just been a random attack.

Los Angeles police responded in force, setting up a perimeter that stretched from Woodley to Haskell Avenue, between Victory and Vanowen Street. Officers were stationed at every intersection along the perimeter with orders to search every vehicle exiting the area.

The LAPD declared a tactical alert for its entire Valley Bureau as the search continued and about 2 p.m. Zaragoza was spotted in Canoga Park, about seven miles from the location of the bus shooting. He was taken into custody after ``a small use of force'' near the intersection of Canoga Avenue and Gault Street, according to Capt. William Hayes, commander of the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division.

NBC4 reported that police used a stun gun on Zaragoza during the arrest. The suspect was placed into an ambulance and taken to a hospital to be checked out.

A motive for the rampage was not immediately known.


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