Pasadena

3 charged with robbery in probe of SoCal scenic turnout killings

“Detectives are confident that the evidence recovered, and the facts obtained thus far in their investigation connect to a specific criminal street gang to murders and other violent crimes that have occurred in Los Angeles County over the last week,” Pasadena police said Saturday

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Three people have been charged in the robbery of a man who was killed last week on Angeles Crest Highway and two robberies on the highway the week before, authorities said Saturday.

The suspects charged Friday are believed to be among five allegedly armed gang members arrested Tuesday in Panorama City and a sixth suspect arrested that day in South Los Angeles.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the killing of the Angeles Crest Highway victim, and the shooting death of a man and a woman who were found dead in their vehicle in Rancho Palos Verdes early Monday.

Lt. Keith Gomez of the Pasadena Police Department said during a Wednesday news conference that the suspects are members of a Los Angeles criminal street gang that carries out robberies of people “parked in scenic turnouts,” noting that the victims were usually “distracted” when the attacks occurred.

On Friday, detectives from the police department's Robbery/Homicide Unit met with prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Luis Ventura, 23, of Los Angeles, was charged with two counts of robbery with a handgun for allegedly robbing 32-year-old Jessie Munoz of Los Angeles and his female companion.

Ventura's bail was set at $150,000, police said.

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Wendy Cerritos, 20, and Rossel Josue Hernandez, 21, both of Los Angeles, were charged with four counts and two counts, respectively, of robbery with a handgun for robberies that occurred on Angeles Crest Highway the week preceding Munoz's murder, police said.

Bail was set at $300,000 for Cerritos and $150,000 for Hernandez.

Munoz was fatally shot on July 22 while in a vehicle he was driving that crashed on Angeles Crest Highway near Mile Marker 28.36, police said earlier. He died at the scene.

Deputies sent to the 7000 block of Palos Verdes Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes at 6:50 a.m. Monday found Jorge Ramos, 36, and TaylorRaven Whittaker, 26, fatally shot inside a parked Subaru sedan, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Multiple bullet holes were visible on the car.

“Detectives are confident that the evidence recovered, and the facts obtained thus far in their investigation connect to a specific criminal street gang to murders and other violent crimes that have occurred in Los Angeles County over the last week,” Pasadena police said Saturday.

At 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, detectives saw a vehicle allegedly involved in the Munoz murder in the 7600 block of Woodman Street in Panorama City, initiated a stop and took five men into custody.

Multiple semi-automatic firearms were recovered from the interior portion of the vehicle, authorities said.

A female suspect was simultaneously taken into custody in the 900 block of West 85th Street in Los Angeles and a search warrant was executed at multiple locations.

Gomez declined to give specifics about the alleged link between the two cases, saying the sheriff's department investigation was still ongoing. He said repeatedly, however, that investigators believe the shootings are connected.

Anyone with information about this case was asked to call the Pasadena Police Department at 626-744-4241. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, or tips can be sent to lacrimestoppers.org.

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