Riverside police say target of I.E. hitman plot was 'Good churchgoing young man'

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Here's what we know about bizarre murder-for-hire plot in Riverside
We're learning more about an alleged hitmen-for-hire plot by a self-proclaimed Inland Empire pastor that targeted the man his daughter was dating.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- At first, the shooting didn't make sense.

A "good churchgoing young man" with no criminal past and no mortal enemies - that he knew of - was sitting in his car at a stop sign in Riverside last October when another vehicle pulled up.

Suddenly, gunfire erupted.

Multiple bullets pierced his window, shattering the glass. Some struck him directly. One even smashed up his cellphone so he couldn't call 911.

But none of the wounds was fatal.

After the assailants fled, the victim was able to drive himself to a nearby hospital.

There wasn't anything in his background that provided Riverside investigators with an obvious clue as to motive.

"There's nothing about this victim that would make anyone want to shoot him or have him shot," said Riverside Officer Ryan Railsback. "He's a good churchgoing young man. There's nothing in his past, nothing that would be concerning at all."

But there was one thing.

As detectives looked into the case, the investigation pointed them to a startling conclusion: The young man was dating a woman whose father didn't agree with her choice in men.

Disagreed so strongly that he allegedly paid to have him killed.

This week, nearly five months after the shooting, Riverside police announced the arrest of that father, a self-described pastor named Samuel Davalos Pasillas, in a stunning murder-for-hire plot. They say Pasillas, 47, paid two hitmen nearly $40,000 to kill the man his daughter was dating.

The hitmen stalked their target for weeks, tracking his movements to find the right opportunity, police say. Pasillas even allegedly helped provide them with information about the victim's whereabouts before they finally made their move.

Also arrested last week was Juan Manuel Cebreros, 55, of Long Beach, while a third man is believed to be still outstanding.

Both Cebreros and Pasillas pleaded not guilty during a joint arraignment Monday in Riverside and are expected back in court next week. They are each being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Eyewitness News visited the Victorville church where Pasillas has claimed to be a pastor. The church apparently operates out of a house belonging to Pastor Rafael Porras, who said Pasillas was not a pastor but a volunteer. Porras said he had no comment about Pasillas' arrest.

As for the target of the shooting? He's out of the hospital and still recovering.

And he's not dating Pasillas' daughter anymore.