3 arrested in fatal hold-up at scenic lookout are charged with robbery, Pasadena police say

Amy Powell Image
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Vigil honors victims killed at ocean overlook in Rancho Palos Verdes
A somber vigil was held at the ocean overlook in Rancho Palos Verdes where a man and woman were shot and killed.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (KABC) -- Three suspects who were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a man at a scenic lookout along Angeles Crest Highway have been charged with robbery but not murder, Pasadena police said Saturday.

The charges stem from the killing of 32-year-old Jesse Munoz, a Los Angeles resident who was murdered shortly before 3:30 a.m. on July 22 at the highway's mile marker 36, authorities said. He was in a car with a female companion when the incident occurred.

Three days later, "specialized law enforcement personnel intercepted a specific vehicle loaded with armed criminal street gang members in Panorama City. This strategic operation led to five arrests and the recovery of multiple firearms," the Pasadena Police Department said in a news release. "A sixth suspect was simultaneously arrested in South Los Angeles."

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office filed two counts of robbery with handgun allegations against Luis Ventura; a 23-year-old Los Angeles resident, the statement said. He was charged with robbing Munoz and his female companion, and bail was set at $150,000

Twenty-year-old Wendy Cerritos and 21-year-old Rossel Josue Hernandez, both Los Angeles residents, were charged with four counts and two counts respectively, of robbery with handgun allegations, according to police. Bail was set at $300,000 for Cerritos and $150,000 for Hernandez.

Cerritos and Hernandez were charged for robberies that occurred on Angeles Crest Highway the week preceding Munoz' killing, authorities said.

Members of the Pasadena Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Unit "are confident that the evidence recovered, and the facts obtained thus far in their investigation connect a specific criminal street gang to murders and other violent crimes that have occurred in Los Angeles County over the last week," the statement said.

Authorities confirmed arrests in connection with the separate shooting deaths of victims who were in parked cars when they were killed in Rancho Palos Verdes and Pasadena.

The three suspects were among the six people arrested earlier this week in connection with Munoz's death.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Pasadena police said the suspects in custody were also believed to be tied to a fatal shooting at an ocean overlook in Rancho Palos Verdes that occurred early Monday morning.

Taylorraaven Whittaker, 26, and Jorge Ramos, 36, were sitting in a parked car when they were fatally shot in that attack. On Friday night, a vigil was held at the scene in their honor.

"She was funny, she was outspoken, very free-spirited, very helpful, very loving," Whittaker's friend Jessica Williams said. "She was just so sweet."

Another coworker and friend who attended the vigil, Deja Owens, said it was "shocking for us to even have to do this, for real, because we just seen her last week."