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Juvenile detained, 2 men charged after 4 people are killed in a string of ‘random’ shootings in Los Angeles County

<i>KCAL/KCBS</i><br/>Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Andrew Meyer speaks at a news conference Tuesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Andrew Meyer speaks at a news conference Tuesday.

By Cindy Von Quednow, Cheri Mossburg, Lauren Mascarenhas and Dalia Faheid, CNN

(CNN) — A third suspect is in custody stemming from a shooting spree that killed four people, including a minor, in the span of a few hours, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday morning.

No details about a detained juvenile were shared beyond the boy was picked up in Compton and is being held on suspicion of murder.

Two men were earlier charged with murder in connection with the string of shootings that occurred overnight Sunday into Monday in southeast Los Angeles County, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

The killings appear to be a “random murder spree,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Andrew Meyer said at a news conference Tuesday.

Investigators were able to connect the incidents because the same Honda Pilot vehicle was seen near each crime scene, authorities said. All were reported between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 1:55 a.m. Monday, Meyer said.

The adult suspects, 42-year-old Gary Garcia and 20-year-old Timberland Wayne McKneely, were both charged with four counts of murder and two counts of attempted willful, deliberate, premeditated murder, according to the criminal complaint.

They face special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and shooting from a motor vehicle causing death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office detailed in a news release.

“In the face of this devastating crime spree that claimed the lives of four innocent people, including a child, my heart aches for the victims and their grieving families,” District Attorney Gascón said in the release. “Multiple communities have been terrorized by these men’s callous, cruel, and cold-hearted actions. This senseless violence will not go unanswered by the scales of justice. Our Major Crimes Division is working tirelessly to hold these two men accountable and to bring justice to the victims and their families.”

Garcia and McKneely were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, but their court date was rescheduled to February 29, the District Attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors are asking that the suspects be held without bail. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged, according to the office.

Authorities believe Garcia and McKneely are gang members, Meyer said, but did not elaborate on their alleged affiliations. It does not appear they knew the victims, Meyer added.

Garcia has an “extensive criminal history” while McKneely has none, Meyer said. Jail records show they were being held on an unspecified felony charge. CNN is attempting to identify the suspects’ legal representation.

Investigators believe there may be one additional man involved in the shootings who has not been taken into custody, authorities said.

Two of the victims, Kevin Parada, 24, and 14-year-old Javier Pedraza Jr., have been identified by the county medical examiner’s office.

Another teenager was wounded in the shooting that killed Pedraza, and is now in stable condition, Meyer said.

How the killings unfolded

  • Officers who responded to reports of shots fired in the city of Bell around 10:30 p.m. Sunday found a Hispanic man who had been shot and was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Meyer said. Another adult male at the scene was not injured, Meyer added.
  • At 12:04 a.m. Monday, officers were called to a parking lot on East Florence Avenue in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. They found a Hispanic man who had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Meyer said.
  • Just 12 minutes later, at 12:16 a.m., officers responded to a call in the city of Cudahy and found two minors, both male and Hispanic, who had both been shot. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was taken to a local hospital and is now in stable condition, Meyer said.
  • Around 1:55 a.m., in the nearby city of Huntington Park, an officer on patrol discovered someone lying in the street – a Hispanic man who had been shot. He, too, was pronounced dead at the scene, Meyer said.

Officers from different departments who were investigating the killings communicated with each other and found the Honda Pilot was caught on surveillance footage at the scene of each shooting, Meyer said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department identified the license plate for the car and alerted local law enforcement, he added. A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputy spotted the car around 4 p.m. Monday and conducted a traffic stop which led to one of the suspects being arrested.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents the area where the shootings happened, described them as a “rampage” that shook the community.

“It really put everybody on edge, everyone was frightened,” she said.

Hahn applauded the district attorney for “taking swift and decisive action” in filing murder charges, according to the Thursday news release.

“Families across Southeast Los Angeles are grieving, and communities are still shaken by the terror created by this senseless rampage. Nothing we can do will make these families whole again, but these men must be held accountable for the pain they caused and the lives they stole,” Hahn said.

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