The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved rewards Tuesday in hopes of tracking down the killer of a 22-year-old man who may have been shot for a six-pack of beer in East Los Angeles and for information that helps authorities build a case in a fatal hit-and-run case in the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone.
Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended a $20,000 reward for information on the gunman who shot Rene Alejandro Lupian in the 900 block of South Concourse Avenue as he walked home from work around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 7.
Lupian’s attacker struck him in the head with what may have been the butt of a gun and then shot him twice at close range before running off with the victim’s black backpack containing a six-pack of beer and his work uniform.
Investigators said video surveillance from a liquor store nearby on Whittier Boulevard showed the driver of a white compact car watching Lupian closely as he put the beer in his backpack. A woman could be seen getting into the car just before it followed Lupian onto South Concourse Avenue, and a witness saw a white compact car leaving the scene.
A gold cross that the victim wore around his neck on a chain, a keepsake left to him by his grandmother, was found on the ground where he died.
Solis said Lupian had studied literature at Antioch University and enjoyed writing poetry and music. He was working at In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Pico Rivera and had applied to a trade school to pursue his dream of becoming an architect.
Solis urged anyone with information to call sheriff’s homicide Detective Theo Baljet at (323) 890-5500.
Sheriff’s officials and members of Lupian’s family were expected to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles to seek help from the public in finding whoever killed the 22-year-old, as well as a person of interest
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run motorist who killed 61-year-old James Haley about 2 a.m. July 14. Haley was walking south on Firestone Boulevard crossing Holmes Avenue in a marked crosswalk when the driver of a 2017 white Dodge Charger headed east struck and fatally injured him.
The car was found later that day, a short distance away in the 1800 block of East 87th Street, with damage to the windshield and hood and physical evidence that it had struck a pedestrian, police said.
California Highway Patrol officers found 55-year-old Julio Santamaria walking in the area and arrested him, alleging that he had been driving drunk at the time of the crash. Santamaria was released from jail three days later after the District Attorney’s Office asked for further investigation, according to sheriff’s online jail records and an office spokesman.
Ridley-Thomas said Haley was homeless at the time he died and is survived by his son, Jason. The supervisor urged anyone with additional information to call California Highway Patrol Detective Donald Smulski at (310) 516-3355.
Anonymous calls may also be made to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or at www.lacrimestoppers.org.
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