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Motives still unknown in O.C. fatal shooting

February 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Two shooting victims were found at a home in Westminster after a Nev. police chase led police into a bizarre murder mystery. Authorities said Monday that they have a suspect in custody, and he will be charged with murder.However, authorities have not revealed what they believe the motive behind the shooting was.

A man and woman were found with gunshot wounds at a home on the 5300 block of Duncannon Avenue in Westminster on Sunday. The woman, identified as 48-year-old Julie Palasco, was declared dead at the scene, while the man, 49-year-old Dennis Koire, was gravely wounded.

Detectives found the victims after their car was found in Primm, Nevada, being driven by 32-year-old Pasqual Raul Loera of El Cajon.

Neighbors said they still can't believe the shooting happened.

"I'm surprised actually because we have a very quiet neighborhood here," said Westminster resident Anita Thomas.

Gina Peet and her family paid their respects by leaving a bouquet of flowers at the Duncannon Avenue home.

"They were just really great people. I don't know why anyone would want to hurt them," said Peet, Palasco's friend.

Neighbors told Eyewitness News the couple was trying to sell two cars, one of which was a black Infiniti, and that Infiniti was found driven by the suspect in the car chase. At least one neighbor said that she saw the black Infiniti in the driveway in front of the house Saturday night. Sunday morning, the car was gone.

The car chase began when security guards spotted Loera acting suspiciously at Buffalo Bills Resort and Casino in Stateline, Nev. When they tried to question him, he ran off and later crashed the car during a pursuit with police.

The pursuit ended when Loera crashed the car, and when police were taking him into custody, they noticed he had a gunshot wound to his foot.

Police also noticed that the vehicle was registered to residents in Westminster.

Westminster police received a phone call from Nevada authorities to check the well being of a man and woman who live at the Duncannon Avenue home. When police officers arrived at the home Sunday afternoon, they found the couple with gunshot wounds.

"Two of our detectives went to Las Vegas to interview Mr. Loera, and based on that interview, and based on some of the evidence that was found, he will be charged in this murder," said Westminster Police Officer Van Woodson.

"I don't know what the motive for this homicide was. I don't know if it was a robbery gone bad or if he was there under the ruse of buying a car, I'm not sure," said Woodson.

Woodson assured the Westminster community that there were no outstanding suspects, believing Loera to be the only suspect in the case.

"We're certain that we got our guy," he said.

Police are now working to get Loera extradited to California.

Neighbors said the couple had lived there for more than 15 years, and both worked as longshoremen.

"They wanted to quit early and have fun and enjoy life," said Carolyn Webb, the couple's friend. "I dearly miss them, and the safety and security of the neighborhood seems to be destroyed now."

Koire remains in the hospital in critical condition.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call the Westminster Police Department at (714) 898-3315.

Rob Hayes contributed to this report.