LOS ANGELES - Six people have been arrested in connection with the robbery and murder of a man on Angeles Crest Highway in Pasadena over the weekend, and authorities believe the same suspects may be responsible for a double homicide in Rancho Palos Verdes earlier this week.
The first crime occurred on Saturday, July 22. Jessie Munoz, 32, died after what police believe was a robbery turned deadly. According to his family, he was out at his happy place in the Angeles National Forest. It was a place where he would go to clear his head and think.
On that morning, Munoz brought Sheila Santibañez with him to the forest, to show her the sunrise. They parked off the side of the highway near mile marker 28.36, waiting for daybreak, when Pasadena police said a man robbed them, then started shooting at them.
- Rancho Palos Verdes shooting: Man, woman found dead inside bullet-riddled car
- Man shot, killed in robbery in Angeles National Forest remembered as family man
Santibañez was able to avoid the bullets. Munoz wasn't so lucky, but still, he tried to drive away, eventually crashing the car before dying from gunshot wounds.
According to Lt. Keith Gomez with the Pasadena PD, officials were able to identify two suspects Monday night, before ultimately arresting six people Tuesday in Los Angeles. Five of those people were arrested in Panorama City, after police located a vehicle they believed was involved in the crimes that led to Munoz's murder. The sixth suspect as arrested in South Los Angeles later that day.
On Friday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged three of those arrested for the attack on Munoz, as well as other recent crimes on tone Angeles Crest Highway. Luis Ventura, 23, of Los Angeles, was charged with robbing Munoz and Santibañez. Wendy Cerritos, 20, and Rossel Josue Hernandez, 21, were charged with other armed robberies on the same highway the week before Munoz was killed.
Gomez said investigators believe the six people arrested are part of a street gang, responsible for other crimes in the area. He also said they may be connected to a similar murder in Rancho Palos Verdes Monday night. Jorge Ramos, 36, and Taylor Raven Whittaker, 26, were found shot to death inside a parked Subaru early Monday at a scenic overlook in the 7000 block of Palos Verdes Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes.
While police in Pasadena said they believe the people they've arrested are responsible for these murders, charges in this case ultimately fall to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
No one has yet been charged with Munoz's murder. Ventura and Hernandez's bail was set at $150,000, while bail for Cerritos was set at $300,000.