Riverside Police Department

Three Years After Killing, Fresh Tips Lead to Arrests in Teen's Cold Case Murder

Lareanz Simmons was shot just steps from his grandmother's door in what prosecutors say was a racially motivated crime.

Nearly three years after a 14-year-old boy was gunned down outside his grandmother’s Riverside home, police said Thursday that two gang members have been arrested in connection with his murder.

The grandmother of Lareanz Simmons had only harsh words for the boy’s alleged killers, who police believe shot her grandson in what police believe was a racially motivated crime.

"It's been three years and I still see him everyday, I see him laying there,” Bernice Hobdy said from just outside the house where her grandson died, soon after the arrests were announced.

Outside the home, Hobdy has a memorial at the same spot where Simmons died, shot while returning home from a friend’s house.

"Almost made it to the driveway," she said. "Maybe if he had made it to the driveway he might still be alive today."

Simmons was a popular student at Riverside Poly High School, where he was an ROTC meeting. He was raised by his grandmother after the third grade. She considered him a son.

"It was really sad that he didn't get a chance to learn how to drive a car or have his first girlfriend," Hobdy said.

For nearly three years, Simmons’ murder remained a mystery, until the Riverside Police Department received some tips recently.

Those tips led them to Cristian Velasquez, 23, and Manuel Barbarin, 24. Both are documented gang members, detectives said.

"I don't understand how one person can take a gun and shoot someone in the head that you don't even know,” Hebdy said.

Simmons was not a gang member and investigators believe he was simply targeted because of his race, which is why there are special murder enhancement charges.

"The first one is hate crime murder, the second would be a gang murder circumstance," said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin.

Investigators said that even there have been two arrests, they are still looking for a third man, who goes by the name of Ricardo or Richard.

For his grandmother, there isn’t enough punishment for the men who took her son.

"How could you do something… so evil?" she asked. When asked about the option of the death penalty for the men who allegedly killed her grandson, she said simply "Why keep them in jail for the taxpayer to take care of?"

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