EAST LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man and his father were arrested in East Los Angeles today in connection with three unsolved homicides in that community in 2014, 2015, and 2018.
Anthony Velasquez, 31, and Manuel Velasquez, 51, were taken into custody about 4:30 a.m. at a residence in the 300 block of Humphreys Avenue, according to Deputy Shawn Du Busky of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
“Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide investigators are on scene conducting a forensics investigation and attempting to locate the firearms connected to these murders,'' Du Busky said in a statement.
Anthony Velasquez was booked on suspicion of murder, and his bail was set at $2 million, Du Busky said. Manuel Velasquez was expected to be booked on suspicion of being an accessory to murder, Du Busky said.
In July, an $80,000 reward was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for help solving the shooting deaths of Jesse Avalos in 2014, Eduardo Robles in 2015 and Amanda “Nikki'' Lopez in 2018.
“While we can never bring back those whose lives were unfortunately taken, my hope (is) that the families, who have been so tragically affected, can find some sense of peace by this news,'' county Supervisor Hilda Solis, who sponsored the reward, said in a statement Thursday.
It was not immediately clear if anyone will receive the reward money.
At a news conference in August, detectives said they believed the three crimes, which occurred within about two miles from one another, were connected, and that the suspects targeted the victims.
Avalos, 34, was found shot to death on Feb. 11, 2014, at about 3:25 a.m. in the 4800 block of East Telegraph Road, sheriff's Capt. Joe Mendoza said at the August news conference in the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.
About four hours before he was killed, Avalos had received a call from an acquaintance asking him to go to the location to jump-start a vehicle, and he went there to help, Mendoza said. Avalos was found shot to death while seated in the driver's seat of his SUV, Mendoza said. Two suspects were seen leaving the area.
Robles, 38, was fatally shot on July 6, 2015, at about 7:30 p.m. after he got into a fight with a suspect in the driveway of a residence in the 4300 block of Eagle Street, Mendoza said.
About 15 to 20 people were at the location at the time, but none provided information leading to the arrest of the suspect, Mendoza said.
Lopez, 27, was fatally shot on April 22, 2018, at about 2:40 a.m., as she slept in a tent near a homeless encampment in the 200 block of Fetterly Avenue in front of the East Los Angeles field office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Mendoza said.
Security video showed the gunman, who wore a mask, getting out of a light-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser and firing into the tent, Mendoza said. The suspect went to the encampment looking for Lopez, Mendoza said. After the shooting, the gunman ran to the PT Cruiser, which was driven by another man, and it sped off.
However, once he was inside the vehicle, the gunman took off his mask, and witnesses saw his face, Mendoza said. Composite drawings were circulated of the two men, as was security video from the crime scene.
According to Mendoza, ballistics evidence showed that the same gun was used in the first two killings. The driver is believed to have accompanied the gunman in the second and third killings, Mendoza said.
Also at the news conference in August was Jesse Avalos' sister, Maria Avalos, who appealed for public help in solving the killings.
“I think I speak for my family as well as the other families – we don't have closure, we don't have justice ...,'' Maria Avalos said. “All of these families are still suffering. Please help us. Please come forward with any information you have.''
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.