LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Wilmington man was arrested in the killings of three people, a 17-year-old boy and a young couple who were shot inside their car with their 1-year-old son in the backseat, the Los Angeles Police Department announced Thursday.
Dion Johnson, 20, faces three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with multiple shootings last year, authorities said at a news conference attended by the victims' families.
Johnson is accused in the murders of 21-year-old Carlos Loera and 18-year-old Ashley Guzman, who were shot and killed in their car Sept. 4 in the 1000 block of 253rd Street in Harbor City. The couple's 1-year-old was in the seat behind them and was shot, but survived his injuries. The toddler's car seat slowed down the velocity of the bullets.
The suspect is also accused in the murder of 17-year-old Joseph Saldana, who was gunned down Sept. 30 in the 1200 block of North Park Western Drive in San Pedro. Saldana was with three other people when one or more suspects approached them on foot and shot them, the LAPD reported.
Saldana was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victims, apparently in their early 20s, were hospitalized in stable condition, according to police.
While it offers some relief to know that a suspect is in custody, family members say it does not fill the hole left behind by their loved ones.
"He had just graduated from high school and was just in the process of starting college and his first job," Saldana's godmother Monique Vasquez said at the news conference. "He had his entire life in front of him until it was stripped away by this senseless act of violence."
"If we ever felt sad, she was always there for us," Vanessa Guzman said about her sister Ashley Guzman. "She never showed her weak side."
Another shooting happened Oct. 2, where a man was shot and wounded in Wilmington.
"This is something that nobody wants to see, and the L.A. County District Attorney's office pledges to work with Los Angeles Police Department, our other justice partners and the community to make sure we can try to stem some of this violence to our young people," Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said.
Police say they are not releasing Johnson's booking photo at this time, but say he was a part of a gang and believe the shootings were gang-related.
City News Service contributed to this report.