Crime & Justice

Police ID suspect in Halloween hit-and-run that killed 3 Santa Ana teens

Jaquinn Ramone Bell was arrested at a motel in Stanton and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death after three teenage girls were struck and killed on Halloween night.
Jaquinn Ramone Bell was arrested at a motel in Stanton and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death after three teenage girls were struck and killed on Halloween night.
Santa Ana Police Department
Jaquinn Ramone Bell was arrested at a motel in Stanton and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death after three teenage girls were struck and killed on Halloween night.
Andres and Maria Gonzalez, parents of Andrea, pray at a vigil held Sunday by the site of the hit-and-run crash that killed their daughter and twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez.
Josie Huang/KPCC
Jaquinn Ramone Bell was arrested at a motel in Stanton and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death after three teenage girls were struck and killed on Halloween night.
A picture of Andrea Gonzalez, one of three teens killed in a Halloween hit-and-run crash, is surrounded by candles at a roadside memorial in Santa Ana.
Josie Huang/KPCC


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Updated 11:49 a.m.: Police ID suspect

Santa Ana police have identified a suspect in the hit-and-run deaths of three teenage girls on Halloween night.

Jaquinn Ramone Bell was arrested at a motel in Stanton, where he was taken into custody with two other adults and two teenage children, 17 and 14 years old, Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas said at a news conference Monday morning.

The two other adults and children were released. Bell was booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run causing death, Rojas said.

Rojas told reporters Bell was 31 years old, though police records list his age as 32. Bell has plenty of records of prior arrests, including a DUI conviction in a hit and run that took place in August, 2014. 

Police did not offer many other details, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say that Bell was driving a vehicle registered to someone else he knew. 

The three 13-year-olds, twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez, and their friend Andrea Gonzalez, were walking north in the crosswalk at Fairhaven and Grand Avenue when they were struck and killed.

The car, identified as a black 2001 Honda CRV, was located in a parking lot about 800 yards from the accident scene and had extensive damage to the front end.

— KPCC staff

5:30 a.m.: Family relieved after suspects arrested

Just hours before a Sunday night vigil drew about 100 mourners, police announced they had arrested multiple suspects in the Halloween night hit-and-run crash that killed three teenagers in Orange County.

Santa Ana police plan a press conference Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss details of the arrests. Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido told NBC4 Sunday evening that five people were arrested, but he did not know their names.

The three 13-year-olds, twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez, and their friend Andrea Gonzalez, were crossing Fairhaven and Grand Avenue Friday at 6:43 p.m. when they were struck and killed.

The car fled the scene, police said, but a Honda CR-V fitting its description was found at a nearby strip mall with damage to its front end.

Josafat Gonzalez, Andrea's brother, said his family was relieved to hear of the arrests. He said it didn't matter that police did not release the names of those arrested.

"It’s just a comfort knowing the people who did this, they’re going to have to answer for what they did," Gonzalez said. "What bothered me the most is the fact that they killed them and left them like they were just nothing."

Neighbors and friends prayed with the girls’ families during the vigil at a roadside memorial set up at the crash site opposite Fairhaven Elementary School, which all three girls had attended when they were younger.

One of those attending the vigil was 12-year-old Cynthia Villalobos, who went to Portola Middle School with the twins.

“I want to wake up from this nightmare,” Villalobos said. “Because it doesn’t feel real. I still feel like they’re alive.”

Andrea Gonzalez attended Santiago Charter Middle School.

Earlier on Sunday, a crowd gathered at the roadside memorial, swelling to about 60 by mid-afternoon. Juan Pablo Ramirez, the stepfather of the twin girls, briefly visited the site overflowing with flowers, stuffed animals and candy.

A fund to help cover the costs of the twins' memorial has been set up. A statement posted to a Facebook page and crowdfunding fund for the girls called for donations to help defray the cost of their burial.

"We ask for your support to help raise money and awareness to give them the most respectful memorial that both they and their family deserve in this tragic time for them,"  it reads. By Sunday evening, the site had raised $22,400, exceeding its $10,000 goal. 

Gonzalez said his sister’s school principal had created a memorial fund in her name on GoFundMe. As of Sunday night, the $15,000 goal was just dollars away. Principal Jim D'Agostino wrote of Gonzalez: "Andrea was a beautiful little girl with a warm smile, kind heart, many friends, good grades, and perfect attendance. May God be with her, and her family."

The families are talking about holding a joint memorial service, said Gonzalez, because the girls were always together and died together.

"I think it would be a very good idea to have people’s last views of them to just all be together,” Gonzalez said.

A father trick-or-treating with his son Friday night in Irvine was also struck and killed. The 4-year-old boy was injured and reported in critical but stable condition on Sunday. The driver in that case stopped and has been cooperating with police.

No charges have been filed pending an investigation, according to a department spokeswoman.