The family of a man whose beaten body was found beneath the Santa Monica Pier and may be related to the deaths of two homeless men in downtown Los Angeles held a vigil for him near the site where he was killed as police searched Saturday for clues in connection with his death.
The man was identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as 39-year-old Steven Cruze Jr. of San Gabriel.
His body was found around 6:30 a.m Thursday by city maintenance workers and was initially described as homeless by the Santa Monica Police Department.
“He wasn’t homeless,” his father, Steven Cruze Sr., told NBC4 at the Friday evening vigil. ”He just slept over here (under the pier) and went to work from here sometimes. He had a membership with a gym so could get up in the morning, go take a shower and go to work. He knows so many people on this pier, he felt safe.”
Cruze’s murder follows the deaths of two homeless men who were beaten and robbed in downtown Los Angeles early Sunday morning. A third victim remained hospitalized in critical condition with severe head trauma, according to Officer Drake Madison of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Division.
Police in Santa Monica searched for evidence in connection with Cruze’s murder, but would not say if his death was linked to the attacks in Los Angeles.
“We have not necessarily linked it to the incidents that have happened in the downtown L.A. area,” Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez told ABC7. “But there are some similarities and we are working closely with LAPD to see if there is any way we can locate a possible suspect.”
The trio of downtown Los Angeles attacks occurred between 4 and 5 a.m. Sunday, and the LAPD released surveillance video of a man suspected in those attacks, which investigators said were carried out with a baseball bat.
The first incident was at the northwest corner of Fifth and Flower streets, while the second and third happened on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, just east of Flower Street, Los Angeles Police Captain William Hayes said at a Monday news conference.
All three victims were attacked while they slept, and the suspect went through their belongings before leaving the scene, Hayes said.
The suspect was described as white or Hispanic with dark bushy hair and wearing a blue hat, gray sweatshirt, black shorts and bright white tennis shoes. Police noted that the suspect, who might also be homeless, appeared slightly bow-legged and walked with a distinctive gait.
Anyone with information on the downtown Los Angeles attacks was urged to call Robbery-Homicide Detectives at (213) 486-6890.