Emergency vehicles at the scene of the shooting in Whittier Heights. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A 38-year-old Montebello jail worker knows about incarceration professionally, but this time he was on the other side of those bars after he allegedly shot and killed the mother of his children and wounded the dead woman’s companion during an exchange of custody at the woman’s home in unincorporated South Whittier Heights.

The attack took place about 11:10 a.m. Saturday in the 13900 block of Coteau Drive, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon said.

Nereida Villanueva, 33, was pronounced dead at the scene and her male companion was taken to an area hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

His relationship to Villanueva was unclear.

The suspect, 38-year-old Efrem Ruben Lozoya, fled the scene after the shooting but later turned himself in at a local police station, the sheriff’s department reported.

He was arrested about 5 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, according to the sheriff’s department and jail information.

It’s unclear why Lozoya allegedly opened fire, authorities said.

Lozoya and Villanueva previously were involved in a relationship and were meeting for a child custody exchange when the shooting took place, Deputy Ryan Rouzan said.

The two children, ages 7 and 9, were not hurt and it’s unclear if they saw their mother’s shooting.

Lozoya — a contract employee in the Montebello jail — was being held at the Los Angeles County Central jail on $2 million bail, according to Gordon and jail information.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Downey Superior Court, jail records show.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives asked anyone with any information regarding the incident to call (323) 890-5500.

–City News Service

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