'Random murder spree': Two arrested, one suspect sought in 4 shooting deaths across LA County

A 14-year-old boy and a young father were among the four people killed in a string of senseless shootings across Los Angeles County. over the weekend, and authorities announced Tuesday that two alleged gangmembers had been arrested and charged with murder.

Gary Jonathan Garcia Jr., 42, and Timberland Wayne McKneely, 20, were arrested for the shootings, which happened hours apart and within a few miles of each other in Bell, Florence-Firestone, Cudahy and Huntington Park Sunday night into Monday morning.

The first shooting occurred outside the Martha Escutia Primary Center in Bell, Sunday, Feb. 11 around 10:30 p.m. Officers arrived and found 24-year-old Kevin Parada, a husband and father who lived nearby, dead from a gunshot wound. A second man was found at the scene but he was not injured, Captain Andrew Meyer of LA County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau said during a press conference. 


Officials say Parada was shot dead when a passenger in a car pulled up and opened fire. He leaves behind a young son.

FOX 11 spoke with the man who said he survived that shooting. His name is Brian, and didn't want to give his last name for fear another shooter is still out there.

"I'm mixed in between emotions of feeling like I'm glad be alive, but still saddened," Brian said.

According to Brian, he and his friend had been standing outside their apartment smoking cigarettes late Sunday night. That's when a dark red-colored SUV rolled up.

"They stopped right here, I thought they knew the person I was with," said Brian. "They said, ‘Where are you from?’ I see the pistol pull out, and they aimed at him. I was like, he’s good. I heard a pop."

Briand said he saw Parada fall, "then [the shooter] aimed at me. I was like, ‘I’m good.' I flinched and they missed me. I heard a pop. It was two shots."

Following the 2 arrests, Bell Police Chief Carlos Islas said he hopes the District Attorney will send a message.

"[I] hope that the DA will do everything in their power to prosecute them and be aggressive in their prosecution and not minimize this event," said Chief Islas.

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Kevin Parada / GoFundMe

A second shooting happened just after midnight, around 12:04 a.m. It happened in the 1500 block of East Florence in the Florence-Firestone area in a shopping center parking lot. The victim - a man suffering from gunshot wounds - died at the scene.

About 12 minutes later, another shooting was reported outside Ellen Ochoa Learning Center in Cudahy. Two teenagers were shot--one died at the scene and the other was taken to the hospital and is listed in stable condition. The victim has since been identified by loved ones as 14-year-old Javier Pedraza Jr. According to authorities, he and his friend were talking when the shooter drove up and shot both of them. 

Later that night around 1:55 a.m, an officer from the Huntington Park Police Department was driving in the 6300 block of Santa Fe Ave. when he saw a person lying on the curb. The officer checked on the man and observed that he had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim is believed to be a homeless man who lived in a nearby encampment.

Investigators soon learned that a Honda Pilot was seen on surveillance video at all four shooting locations. According to Meyer, all four shootings are connected but a motive is unknown. 

Deputies in San Bernardino County spotted the suspect's vehicle and conducted a traffic stop where he was later taken into custody and booked for murder. Investigators were able to identify a second suspect who was arrested by a sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau team in Compton. Meyer says investigators still believe a third suspect may have been involved.

"It appears this was a random murder spree. However, homicide detectives have not ruled anything out," Capt. Meyer said. 

Meyer said that Garcia had an extensive criminal history, while Timberland had no criminal history. Both were charged with murder, attempt murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and each of them is being held on $2 million bail. Meyer said there is no indication the suspects knew any of the victims. Police have not revealed which suspect was the alleged shooter. 

The families of both Parada and Pedraza Jr. have set up fundraisers to raise money for funeral costs.

"This horrendous case closed very quickly. Cudahy is a small city. It's only about 1.23 sq miles with a population of about 23,000. So something like this, where two juveniles get shot. Ultimately, one deceased, hits the community very hard," said Capt. Brandon Dea.

Since two of the shootings occurred near schools, law enfocrment is increasing patrols in the area.  

Anyone with information is asked to call the LA County Sheriff's Department.