City News Service

DA's Office Declines Case Against NoHo Resident in West Hills Double-Killing

"This is not a gang-related shooting and this is not a random shooting," LAPD Detective Dave Peteque said last week.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined Wednesday to file a case against a North Hollywood resident arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of two men last week at a West Hills park, saying he may have acted in self-defense.

Ryan Vassallo Conrad, 31, was arrested last Friday in the 1400 block of Crenshaw Boulevard in Torrance in connection with the May 22 killings of Daniel Mercado, 27, and Cesar Ascencio, 42, both of the San Fernando Valley.

When Los Angeles police identified Conrad as the suspect, they said an argument -- the nature of the dispute was not disclosed -- led to the deadly nighttime shooting on a baseball field at Shadow Ranch Park in the 22600 block of Vanowen Street.

"This is not a gang-related shooting and this is not a random shooting," LAPD Detective Dave Peteque said last week. "All four individuals -- there is one witness that we're speaking with -- and all four are acquaintances."

Mercado died at the scene of the shooting, while Ascencio underwent surgery at a hospital, where he died. Police said he was able to speak to detectives and identify the gunman.

"We cannot file charges because we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence shows the suspect may have been acting in self-defense, and credibility issues exist with the witnesses," Deputy District Attorney John Morris wrote in a charge evaluation worksheet released by the District Attorney's Office.

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