Santa Monica and Los Angeles Police Arrest Triple Alleged Murderer

After a month of brutal assaults through Los Angeles and Santa Monica counties, the Santa Monica Police Department apprehended suspect Ramon Escobar, 47, on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 in Santa Monica, California, on four charges of attempted murder, and three charges of murder. Identifying Escobar by his distinctive gait and clothing he had been seen wearing in previously obtained surveillance footage, a Santa Monica uniformed Police Office identified and detained Escobar.

Santa Monica Police Officers were responding to an assault with a deadly weapon report on 7th street and Broadway avenue that left a homeless man unconscious. Upon investigation, Officers found the unconscious homeless man with blunt force trauma to the head, a common injury throughout the assaults. A short while after Escobar was found near the intersection of 16th street and Broadway avenue, just a short distance from that mornings assault.

Escobar may also be linked to the murder of Steven Cruze Jr., 39, whose body was found underneath the Santa Monica Pier by maintenance workers on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Cruze, a San Gabriel resident and father of two, was not homeless and would often sleep on the beach after overnight fishing trips and worked on fishing cruises in the Santa Monica area, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Briefing the press on the arrest Tuesday afternoon, Captain William Hayes of the Los Angeles Police Department speculated to the motive behind Escobars assaults, stating "it does not appear [the assaults] were directed at any group. I think [the assaults] were a crime of opportunity." 

Reinforcing that idea, The Los Angeles Times reported that two of the downtown assaults were caught on video, which would provide crucial evidence later used to positively identify Escobar. Surveillance footage showed the suspect going through his victims’ pockets.

Captain Hayes also explained that law enforcement believed Escobar to be homeless himself, and living out of his car, a 2004 black colored Honda CRV, which was found by law enforcement on Monday after Escobar's arrest.

“A search warrant was served on Escobars car today," explained Captain Hayes, " ... we recovered a wooden baseball bat, believed to be the weapon in the two murders, and attempted murder that occurred Sept 16th in Los Angeles. Yesterday, while processing the Santa Monica crime scene, a set of bolt cutters was recovered. Those bolt cutters were believed to be the weapon used in the September 24th attack in Santa Monica. Escobars car, along with the other items are currently being processed for forensic evidence.”

Santa Monica Police Captain Wendell Shirley, in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division, spoke to the effectiveness of the working relationship between the LAPD and SMDP on Escobar's case, stating, "I want to recognize the the collaborative effort [the SMDP] had with the LAPD. In my opinion, it was textbook."

LAPD Captain Hayes made is clear that the LAPD and SMPD would be recommending four charges of attempted murder, and three charges of murder to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office on Wednesday.

Escobar, originally from Texas, is also a person of interest in a Houston case regarding the disappearance of his family members Rojelio Escobar and Dinora Escobar, his uncle and aunt, who vanished in August. According to reports, family members claimed that they had not heard from Escobar since the siblings were reported missing and that he had recently stopped taking medication for a mental illness.

Addressing the possible connection to Houston disappearances, Captain Hayes explained, “As of late last night, [the LAPD] have been in contact with the Houston, Texas Police Departments homicide investigators."