Southern California breaking news and trends

Autopsy report reveals new details in alleged murder by off-duty sheriff's deputy

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A small memorial marks the ground outside the family's home where 38-year old Armando Casillas died from one gunshot wound to the chest after a dispute with a neighbor on June. 17.

An autopsy report reveals more details about the death last June of a man in Sylmar allegedly shot by an off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, including the possibility that a second person was involved.

LAPD detectives believe Francisco Gamez shot Armando Casillas, 38, after Casillas argued with Gamez's son. The new documents describe Casillas standing on the sidewalk outside his parents' Sylmar home shortly after the altercation. A car drove by and a man (Gamez, say police) shot at Casillas out the front passenger window, hitting him once in the chest. The shooter fired again, hitting a nearby car before speeding away.

It's unclear how many people were in the shooter's car. Detective Lou Zorilla, the investigator on the case, says police "are open to the possibility" that someone other than Gamez was driving. Gamez was arrested and charged with murder last month.


Police looking for 'Chucky' in connection with Echo Park murder


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD detectives are looking for "Chucky" for questioning in an Echo Park murder.

A shooting in broad daylight in Echo Park has police looking for witnesses. LAPD Officer Karen Rayner said detectives have a suspect, but they don't know his real name.

33-year-old Ivan Meza Pedroza was standing with a friend on the 2100 block of West Bellevue Ave. when a third man, an acquaintance known as "Chucky," approached. The first friend wandered away, but apparently, returned when he heard talking and then gunshots. The friend found Pedroza had rolled to the bottom of a hill, unconscious.

When Fire Department personnel arrived, Pedroza was pronounced dead. Police believe "Chucky" may have shot Pedroza with a handgun, but don't know of any motive.

They're also looking for anyone who could better identify Chucky or provide any information on the murder.


Man shot and killed Friday morning in Boyle Heights


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD was investigating an early morning homicide Friday in Boyle Heights.

Joe David Lobos, 24, was a block from home, on his way back from work, when he was shot and killed Friday morning at about 1:00. Lobos was driving, and police say the shooter was as well, in a different car that pulled up alongside Lobos. Both were headed east on Olympic Blvd. in Boyle Heights. Police say the shooters' vehicle was a black SUV, likely a Ford Explorer. No arrests have been made.

Shootings have been up this year in the Hollenbeck division, particularly in Boyle Heights, which experienced a rash of gang flare-ups earlier this year. Police say this homicide was likely not gang related. 

Lobos died on the scene. He had recently moved in with his girlfriend and her child. 

We'll have more info as it's available. 


San Bernardino police address public as city reels from recent uptick in violence

Photo courtesy KNBC

Police recover a revolver used in a gunfight in a San Bernardino park in which two men were killed, a woman gravely injured and another man shot in the foot.

Bullets are flying all over San Bernardino lately, and yesterday law enforcement officials held a public meeting to discuss the uptick in violence -- preceded by yet another killing that morning.

Police arrested 21-year-old Esequiel Cisneros of Rialto in connection with a Tuesday morning shooting that left one San Bernardino man dead and two others wounded. It was the city’s fifth killing this week, the 12th this month and at least the 20th this year, indicating a murder rate not seen since the 1990s, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

The victim, 19-year-old Gregorio Gonzales, was shot while visiting a memorial for his friend, 21-year-old Michael Espino, who had been shot dead 16 days prior, the Sun reports.

The shootings seem to be part of an ominous trend, with each new week bringing more bodies and more mayhem, as when a gunfight erupted in a crowded public park on May 6.


Prison officials: Inmate death being investigated as a homicide

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Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Calif.

The death of a 67-year-old inmate at the state prison in Corcoran over the weekend is being investigated as a homicide, say officials.

Gary Boyd was found in his cell, unresponsive, and died Saturday, having suffered a head injury, authorities say.

Boyd was was sent to the prison from Santa Barbara County in 2008 and was serving a 72-year sentence for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

Kings County prosecutors identified inmate Jack Edwin Denzer, as a suspect in the death, say prison officials.

The 55-year-old, serving a 25-year-to-life sentence for first-degree murder, was received from Los Angeles County in 1980. He has reportedly been segregated during the investigation. 


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner