Police said Monday they believe a man in custody on suspicion of the drive-by shooting death of an 8-year-old boy in a Pomona residence targeted the same location several times since January, but aren’t sure why.
Sengchan Houl, 35, of Pomona was arrested about 11:40 a.m. Sunday and booked on suspicion of murder in the death of Jonah Hwang, who was killed on Feb. 20 in the 1100 block of West 11th Street.
Houl was being held on $2 million bail pending arraignment, expected on Tuesday.
The boy was inside the home with his family, visiting friends for dinner, when he was struck by the bullet. Police have said the family at that residence where the shootings occurred had no gang ties.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Pomona police Chief Paul Capraro said there have been a total of four shootings since January at the house, the most recent on Saturday about 7:15 a.m.
“On three of the shootings, the house was unoccupied,” Capraro said. “Evidence suggests that all four of these shootings are related.”
Capraro said investigators were able to identify the vehicle believed to have been used in all four shootings and, with the assistance of several agencies, arrested Houl on Sunday.
“Mr Houl was stopped (while) driving the suspect vehicle that we had identified. … He was stopped while leaving his house in an unincorporated area in the city of Pomona. In his possession at the time of his arrest was a firearm that we believe was used in the shootings.”
Capraro said he didn’t know how long the family had been living at the home, but he believes they are the original owners of the house. They have since moved out.
“If they’re the original owners, it obviously couldn’t have been something that happened prior to them,” he said.
A motive for the shootings was unclear. Capraro said police are continuing to investigate, and will try to determine if anyone else may have been involved.
He said the suspect apparently did not have an extensive criminal record, and it was unknown if he was involved in criminal organizations.
Asked if he can conclude that since there were four shootings at the house since January that Jonah definitely wasn’t the intended target, Capraro was measured in his response.
“We’re still looking into that as a possibility; however, going back to the same house for four times there’s something related to that that (is) more probable than Jonah being the subject of the shooting. However, we’re not positive of that yet.”
The youth’s family brought him home from a Taiwanese orphanage less than three years ago. The residents hosting the dinner were married school teachers with two children of their own, according to neighbors.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on March 8 approved a $10,000 reward, and another $20,000 reward was offered by the Pomona Police Department and the city of Pomona. It’s unclear at this point whether anyone is in line for those rewards, now that an arrest has been made.
— City News Service