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Police suspect hitchhikers killed truck driver

December 16, 2009 12:59:45 AM PST
Two people were arrested in connection with a fatal shooting of a truck driver in Ontario. Authorities believe that the suspects may have hitched a ride with the driver, only to rob him, shoot him and leave him for dead.The suspects have been identified as 28-year-old Rudolfo Rodriguez from Huntington Park and 36-year-old Nolan Lopez from Bell Gardens.

Authorities said witnesses reported seeing a big rig veer off the road at about 1 a.m. and the driver stumble out of the cab and up an embankment, where he finally collapsed. Police found the crashed big rig on the on-ramp of the 10 Freeway at Milliken Avenue.

The driver had allegedly been shot in the chest by one of the two suspects who were riding with him in the cab of the truck. The 52-year-old driver, identified as Rafael Ochoa from Ivanhoe, was transported to a local hospital, but later died of his injuries.

Police set up a perimeter in the area and arrested the first suspect at about 1 a.m. Another man was arrested two hours later after a K-9 unit discovered him cowering in the bushes near the scene. Police said a gun was recovered.

It remains unclear where the driver picked up the suspects. Police are unsure what, if any, the relationship is between the suspects and the driver. There is speculation that the suspects were hitchhikers, but police have not confirmed that information.

"We're still trying to find out if they are hitchhikers, if the driver was taken against his will and forced into his truck and how the altercation occurred within the vehicle," said Ontario police detective Jeff Crittenden.

At a truck stop nearby, fellow drivers said you can never be too careful.

"I just don't stop and pick up nobody. I don't stay at truck stops. All I do is come in, get my fuel," said truck driver Samuel Gonzales.

Truck driver Jaime Lopez said he always keeps his doors locked because it's easy for somebody to get in through the passenger side.

"You hope it doesn't happen to you, and you always try to park where it's safe with a lot of light, and I guess, lock your doors," Lopez said.

It was unclear what the driver was hauling, or if the suspects knew what was inside his tractor-trailer.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting was asked to call the Ontario Police Department at (909) 395-2001.


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