Two convicted felons who are already jailed and charged in multiple shootings are suspected of killing a 51-year-old random Black man in a racially motivated attack in Banning almost six years ago.
Authorities said it took unrelenting detectives and patrol officers working on the 2015 cold case to name William Arnold Armendariz, 24, and Samuel Vasquez, 22, both of Banning, as the alleged killers who targeted their victim because he was Black.
They allegedly shot and killed Charles Warren Neazer of Banning, according to police.
Banning detectives have submitted the case to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for review.
Armendariz is already charged with several counts of first-degree murder and special circumstance allegations of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang in connection with killings in July 2018 and September 2020, according to court documents.
Armendariz is being held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
Fellow documented gang member Vasquez is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder and firearm assault stemming from an attack in 2017, documents showed. He’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, also at the Murrieta jail.
According to a Banning Police Department statement, the cold case involving Neazer’s slaying required pulling patrol officers from their regular duties to assist homicide detectives with the years-long investigation.
Ultimately, detectives confirmed that Armendariz and Vasquez were driving through the 200 block of North Fifth Street, near Williams Street, on the night of Nov. 7, 2015, when they spotted the victim crossing the street and allegedly decided to shoot him because he was Black, police said.
Neazer was struck several times when the suspects opened fire with handguns, investigators allege. He died at the scene.
Witnesses provided limited assistance, but detectives were able to develop leads and piece together sufficient evidence to eventually identify Armendariz and Vasquez as the alleged shooters, according to police.
According to court records, Armendariz has a prior conviction for auto theft, while Vasquez has a prior felony for domestic violence.