SWAT team arrests father, son at East LA home in connection with 3 cold case murders

Thursday, September 23, 2021
Son, father arrested in East LA in connection with 3 cold case murders
A man and his father were arrested at a home in East Los Angeles in connection with three separate murders that date back as far as 2014, authorities said.

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man and his father were arrested early Thursday morning at a home in East Los Angeles in connection with three separate murders that date back as far as 2014, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department SWAT team descended on a residence about 4:30 a.m. and took Anthony Velasquez, 31, into custody. His father, 51-year-old Manuel Velasquez, was arrested as a suspected accessory to the crimes.

News video from the scene showed deputies placing a shirtless Anthony Velasquez into a patrol vehicle after he was apprehended. He was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held on $2 million bail, authorities said. Manuel Velasquez was in the process of being booked and charged.

The arrests came after an $80,000 reward was offered in the case and investigators received multiple tips.

The deceased victims were Jesse Avalos, 34, Eduardo Robles, 38, and Amanda "Nikki" Lopez, 27.

Avalos was found shot to death on Feb. 11, 2014, at about 3:25 a.m. in the 4800 block of East Telegraph Road, sheriff's Capt. Joe Mendoza said at an August news conference.

'They will kill again': $80K reward to help catch suspects linked to 3 East LA murders

Two dangerous suspects are wanted for the murders of three innocent people in East L.A. between 2014 and 2018. Detectives say the "cold blooded" men are armed and extremely dangerous.

About four hours before he was killed, Avalos had received a call from an acquaintance asking him to go to the location to jump-start a vehicle, and he went there to help, Mendoza said. Avalos was found shot to death while seated in the driver's seat of his SUV. Two suspects were seen leaving the area.

Robles was fatally shot on July 6, 2015, at about 7:30 p.m. after he got into a fight with a suspect in the driveway of a residence in the 4300 block of Eagle Street, according to investigators. About 15 to 20 people were at the location at the time, but none provided information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

Lopez was fatally shot on April 22, 2018, at about 2:40 a.m., as she slept in a tent near a homeless encampment in the 200 block of Fetterly Avenue. The scene was located in front of the East Los Angeles field office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

Security video showed the gunman, who wore a mask, exiting a light-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser and firing into the tent, authorities said. The suspect had gone to the encampment looking for Lopez. After the shooting, the gunman ran to the PT Cruiser, which was driven by another man, and it sped off.

However, once he was inside the vehicle, the gunman took off his mask, and witnesses saw his face, Mendoza said. Composite drawings were later circulated of the two men, as was security video from the crime scene.

According to Mendoza, ballistics evidence showed that the same gun was used in the first two killings. Investigators believe the driver accompanied the gunman in the second and third killings.

Homicide detectives said Anthony Velasquez knew each of the victims in some capacity.

"It's a big milestone," sheriff's Lt. Hugo Reynaga told ABC7 on Thursday, referring to the arrests. "I don't know at this point, but we may be able to tie these two to other local murders, also cold cases."

"In addition, we're just happy to provide the families of these three victims some kind of assurance that justice is going to be served," the lieutenant said.

Maria Orozco, Avalos' sister, said she and her family thought they would never receive the call from detectives that his killers were caught.

"It meant relief and I thought of my brother, that's he's somewhere in heaven right now celebrating and that he's happy that justice was made and that they will not hurt anyone anymore," she said.

Anyone with information about the killings or the suspects is urged to contact the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

City News Service contributed to this report.