The gang member suspected in the murder of a 25-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department may be responsible in the murder of his own cousin that happened hours before the officer shootout, authorities said.
The first homicide occurred before 5:30 a.m. Monday in the 1400 block of Volney Drive in East Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Ray Torres, 47, was gunned down in front of his house by his distant cousin, who is the man accused of fatally shooting Whittier police officer Keith Boyer hours later at Colima Road and Mar Vista in Whittier, authorities said.
The suspect, who was not yet publicly named by authorities, was believed to have fled the shooting scene in East Los Angeles in Torres' car before he crashed it in Whittier and got into a shootout with the officers, said Capt. Steve Katz with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
Authorities said the suspect was a known gang member with an extensive criminal record. He was released from prison in April 2016 and was released early from jail eight days ago due to one of several California initiatives aimed a reducing overcrowding, authorities said.
A small memorial was set up outside the garage unit where Torres lived. Relatives were outraged that the suspect was free at all.
"He's an animal. He belongs locked up," said Francine Rivera, Torres' aunt. "He's hurt my nephew, us, my sister, he's hurt those other people, the officers."