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Suspect in South LA toddler's murder arrested in Lancaster

June 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
U.S. Marshals arrested a teenager Thursday accused of murdering 2-year-old Joshua Montes, who was fatally shot one month ago in South Los Angeles.

A $75,000 reward was offered for help in catching and convicting two suspects in a double fatal shooting. One was arrested early in the investigation, the other was on the run.

After a month-long search for the outstanding suspect, deputy Marshals and the California Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension Team arrested Jacquaine Smith in Lancaster Thursday morning.

Smith, who just turned 18 a couple weeks ago, had virtually no criminal record until now. He and a friend are accused of trying to shoot two gang members, but missed and instead hit two innocent people.

Josefat Canchola, 45, had his nephew Joshua Montes in his arms when a single bullet fatally struck both of them at a South L.A. home. The child was 22 months old.

"We need to serve justice for Joshua Montes and of course his uncle," said "Louis," one of the marshals.

The task force typically seeks fugitives and parole violators. Local law enforcement agencies have faced cutbacks so U.S. Marshals are helping to take up the slack.

Security cameras were mounted near a unit where Smith was trying to hide out. As the task force approached, Smith was outside a locked gate without any key. He took off on foot but was arrested after just a couple blocks.

Investigators identified Smith him with the help of his distinctive earrings, the same ones in his DMV photo.

The arrest is especially meaningful for the Marshals.

"The murder of a 2-year-old is very uncommon and when it does happen, we take personal note to it, and we like to expedite and move as swift as possible to apprehend any potential suspects," said Louis.

Smith remained in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department. Police expect to charge him with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of murder.

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