The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved or renewed rewards for information in unrelated fatal shootings that claimed nine lives, including the killing of a Las Vegas man in Carson that’s connected to the alleged abduction of a teenage girl whose mother is one of the two suspects.
Detectives are also seeking help in identifying the gunmen in the shooting deaths of a 53-year-old Windsor Hills father, a 19-year-old volunteer Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk station and his friend, an East Los Angeles Community College basketball player, two young fathers shot at a Compton gas station, and a U.S. Army veteran and his son.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe recovery of the 15-year-old girl whose mother is one of two suspects in the killing of 32-year-old Jeffrey Appel.
Investigators said Alora Benitez was last seen April 17 in Torrance with her mother, 40-year-old Maricela Mercado, and Roman Cerratos, 39. Detectives say they are concerned for Alora’s safety because of the “extreme violence” used to kill Appel, whose body was found around 6:30 a.m. April 16 in his Audi parked in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive. He had been shot multiple times in the neck and upper body, according to coroner’s records.
After an Amber Alert was issued for the teen, a white BMW sedan used by the suspects was recovered in San Diego, in the area of San Ysidro, a major border crossing.
The gun used to kill Appel has not been located and the suspects are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone spotting them was urged to immediately call 911.
Mercado shares custody of her daughter with the girl’s father, who authorities said has no involvement in the homicide.
Ridley-Thomas also recommended a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who shot and killed 53-year-old Timothy Jackson on the night of Feb. 8 at his home in the 3500 block of Floresta Avenue in Windsor Hills.
Jackson, a father of three who worked in the real estate industry, was found dead in his backyard with multiple gunshot wounds by deputies responding to 911 calls reporting gunshots around 10:30 p.m.
The board also renewed four rewards set to expire soon, including:
— $25,000 for information in the 2011 killing of a young man who volunteered as an Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station and his friend, a young father. About 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, 2011, the aspiring deputy, 19-year-old Cesar Rodriguez, and 24-year-old Larry Villegas were fatally shot as they stood in front of a house in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in an unincorporated area near Whittier. Authorities said the driver of a gray Scion sedan with two or three passengers pulled up in front of the men, pulled out a handgun and fired several shots.
Investigators believe the victims, neither of whom were affiliated with gangs, might have been mistaken for local gang members who had been at the scene earlier in the night.
— $20,000 for information in the fatal shooting of Saieed Ivey, a 20-year-old East Los Angeles Community College basketball player who was gunned down on his birthday in Monterey Park. He had gotten into a Mercedes-Benz parked outside his apartment complex parking lot in the 800 block of West El Repetto Drive and while seated in the vehicle was shot in the upper body about 4:30 a.m. on June 9, 2016.
The young man, who was found in the back seat of the locked car, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators said Ivey had some cash with him and was wearing a wristwatch, making it unlikely that it was a robbery. No alcohol, drugs or weapons were found in the car, which had its headlights on.
— $10,000 in the shooting death of two young fathers at a Compton gas station at about 9 p.m. on May 15, 2016. Richard Williams, 24, was driving out of a 76 station in the 1200 block of South Wilmington Avenue with two friends — 23-year-old Boston Farley and 26-year-old Brandon Upchurch – – when someone fired into their vehicle. Williams was struck by multiple rounds and died at the scene. Farley died at St. Francis Medical Center.
Authorities said neither of the victims were gang members. The suspects’ truck was described as a white Chevrolet or GMC utility service truck with ladder racks and built-in side tool boxes.
— $10,000 in the death of U.S. Army veteran Walter Vicente and his son, Andrew. The city of Norwalk has offered its own $10,000 reward, to up the total to $20,000. On July 14, 2015, deputies responding to a report of shots fired found 49-year-old Vicente and his 24-year-old son dead inside their home in the 12300 block of Gettysburg Drive. Both men had been shot in the head.
Detectives working the case in the months after the shooting said they were hard-pressed to find a motive, despite considering potential business disputes or personal vendettas.
Anyone with more information on any of the shootings was asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
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