Security camera video captured the moments before a man was pulled from a truck and beaten after driving onto a Hawthorne sidewalk outside a bar.
The chain of events early Saturday morning ended with the death of the truck’s driver, Melguin Lopez Santos, 40, of Los Angeles. The truck he was driving early Saturday morning narrowly missed people standing on a sidewalk outside the bar.
An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of his death.
What the sheriff’s department described as a physical altercation occurred after witnesses pulled Santos from the truck. Video released this week shows the truck on the sidewalk, striking a tree and liquor store.
Family members asked anyone who witnessed what happened next to come forward with information. His wife was among those at a Tuesday night vigil for Santos.
“In the video it shows he’s not speeding,” said Ilene Perez, Santos’ wife. “If he wanted to hit somebody and murder somebody, I think he would’ve been coming a little faster.”
The sheriff’s department said four attackers are being sought in connection with the case. They said witnesses are cooperating with the investigation.
“It’s important for us to get as much information, and to speak with as many people who were there to really get down to the fine details of exactly what and why this happened,” said deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez. “
Hawthorne police received several calls at about 12:10 a.m. Saturday regarding a vehicle that nearly hit several people on the sidewalk in the 14200 block of Hawthorne Boulevard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported. The driver was involved in an argument earlier in the. bar and was asked to leave, but returned, driving his truck onto the sidewalk, sheriff's officials said.
The truck eventually struck a tree.
People attempted to take the driver out of the vehicle, but the driver was able to accelerate and drove his truck into a nearby building, according to an LASD statement.
“Patrons again took the driver out of the vehicle, and a physical altercation ensued, at this time Hawthorne police arrived on scene,” the statement continued.
Hawthorne officers arrived within minutes of the call and found Lopez Santos on the ground suffering from apparent blunt force trauma — a beating, sheriff's officials said. Paramedics attempted life-saving measures but he died at the scene.
Sheriff's officials said four men were considered prime suspects, but no descriptions were released and no further information was available. Sheriff's homicide detectives were assisting Hawthorne police with the investigation, officials said.
Anyone with information was encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.