stabbing suspect surrender
Stabbing Suspect Surrender - Photo Courtesy of KEYNEWS

Los Angeles police said Thursday a possible second suspect is being sought in connection with a pair of stabbings, including the killing of a 17-year-old honor student who was slain while waiting for his mother outside an El Sereno restaurant.

David Anthony Zapata, 32, who has an apparent history of mental health problems, was arrested about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday following an hours-long standoff at the home where he lives with family in the 2300 block of Westmont Drive in Alhambra.

Zapata allegedly fatally stabbed Xavier Chavarin about 3:55 a.m. Friday in the 4500 block of Valley Boulevard. He also allegedly stabbed Daniel Villalobos, 33, about five hours later in the 5400 block of Valley Boulevard. Villalobos survived the attack.

In a Thursday morning news conference at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, Lt. Ryan Rabbett said Zapata had seven previous misdemeanor arrests but no felony arrests

“Both incidents were completely unprovoked,” Rabbett said. “These citizens were attacked for no apparent reason.”

Rabbett said police were looking for a possible second suspect, a male who was a passenger in a vehicle used by Zapata to leave the scenes of the stabbings.

“We are actively pursuing that individual,” Rabbett said. Rabbett declined to release other details regarding that person, citing concerns about compromising the ongoing investigation.

Rabbett said detectives had focused on Zapata using security videos and information from tipsters.

During the lengthy standoff with Zapata on Wednesday, police negotiators were able to speak to the suspect on the phone. LAPD Cmdr. German Hurtado told reporters that negotiators were eventually able to convince him to come out of the house, assuring him that he would not be harmed.

It was unclear if any of the man’s relatives helped convince him to surrender.

Zapata, wearing dark clothing and a baseball cap, exited the house and walked slowly toward the heavily armed officers, who spoke to him briefly, then handcuffed him and took him into custody.

He was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, according to jail records.

Hurtado said the suspect “has mental health prior incidents,” although he declined to elaborate. After the arrest, Hurtado said Alhambra police indicated that “he has been a problem in this neighborhood.”

On Thursday, Rabbett told reporters, “His mental health is no reason for what he did.”

Chavarin was a straight-A student who attended Woodrow Wilson High School and was supposed to graduate in June, according to his family.

The teen was waiting outside a King Torta restaurant moments before the suspect unexpectedly stabbed him in the back. His family said Chavarin later collapsed and died inside the restaurant while trying to get help.

A woman believed to be Chavarin’s mother showed up Wednesday morning at the scene of the standoff as the suspect was being arrested, but she was overcome with emotion, weeping into her hands as she was surrounded by reporters and cameras. The boy’s grandfather and stepfather were also on hand, according to reports from the scene.

On Tuesday, the LAPD had released a description of the suspect, along with surveillance video showing the suspect seconds before he attacked the teen in El Sereno.

Anyone with additional information was urged to call Central Bureau Homicide Detectives J. Calzadillas or S. Ruiz at 213-996-4116. Those who want to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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