Suspect charged in deadly SoCal shooting spree
The suspected gunman was charged Monday with killing four people and wounding two others during a shooting spree last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced. 26-year-old Gerry Zaragoza is accused of killing his 56-year-old father, Carlos I. Zaragoza, and his 33-year-old brother, Carlos Pierre Zaragoza, and wounding his mother, Blanca Zaragoza, at the family’s apartment in Canoga Park on Thursday.
Police said Gerry Zaragoza then fatally shot a former girlfriend, Azucena Lepe, 45, and critically wounded a man at a gas station where they were working in North Hollywood, where a small memorial of candles stood with a photo of Lepe.
Lepe’s sister told CBS Los Angeles the slain woman and Zaragoza dated briefly. But when Lepe broke off the relationship, the family said Zaragoza became obsessed.
Authorities said Zaragoza also attempted to rob a man outside a bank in Canoga Park and then fatally shot a bus passenger, Detwonia Harris, in Van Nuys. Zaragoza was arrested almost two hours later in the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles.
The charges against Zaragoza include a multiple-murder special circumstance allegation that makes him eligible for the death penalty, according to the district attorney’s office. He faces four counts of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of attempted robbery.
Police remained tight-lipped about a motive behind Thursday’s violence. The owner of a company where Zaragoza’s father worked said he had confided that his son had a drug problem.
“I can’t believe it,” Michael Ramia, who owns a carpet cleaning company, said as he looked at a growing memorial of flowers and candles outside the door of the Zaragozas’ apartment in Canoga Park. “I just feel like knocking on the door and going, “Carlos, Carlitos!
Ramia and employee Marisa Schetz dropped off a bouquet of white and yellow flowers Friday at the Zaragoza home. They said Carlos Zaragoza often expressed frustration at his son’s drug problem and wanted him to work at the company, but he never showed up. They said they didn’t know any family issues had escalated.
“Carlos never told me he was scared,” Ramia said.
They described Carlos Zaragoza as an upbeat employee who trained other technicians and would chastise them if they complained. The company made a framed photo collage of him, signed by employees, and put it behind a burning candle.
Ramia said he would dedicate a carpet cleaning truck to his employee.
Susie Torres, 54, of Sherman Oaks said she met Blanca Zaragoza more than 20 years ago when Torres’ father and Zaragoza worked at the same restaurant.
Torres said Carlos and Blanca Zaragoza met there when he was a customer. She was from El Salvador and he was from Mexico, Torres said.
They moved to Canoga Park, where Blanca Zaragoza worked as a building manager for the complex where the family lived. The woman was shot in the arm, and is expected to survive, the station reports.
Yvett Hernandez, 49, of Canoga Park was one of several people to visit the Zaragoza home Friday to provide comfort but found an empty home with a growing memorial.
“I have to pray for her,” she said.
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