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2 arrested after 4 people were killed in ‘random’ L.A.-area shootings

At least one victim was described as homeless. Officials said one other possible suspect is still at large.
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Four people, including a minor, were dead and two suspects were in custody in a series of seemingly random late-night shootings on the streets of southeast Los Angeles County, authorities said.

The attacks took place overnight Sunday and Monday along a dense industrial and residential swath of the county, from Cudahy to Bell to Huntington Park, with a fifth victim also described as a juvenile who was stable at a hospital, authorities said at a news conference.

Two suspects are affiliated with a gang, according to authorities, but sheriff's Capt. Andrew Meyer did not answer when he was asked whether he believes the attacks were part of a gang initiation ritual. An additional person may have also been involved.

Huntington Park Police Chief Cosme Lozano said the victim in his city was a known homeless person.

"We are confident these are random acts of violence," he said. "Our victim is a known local homeless individual in our community. We know he was simply walking down the street and was randomly targeted."

The attacks started around 10:30 p.m. in the city of Bell when authorities responding to a report of gunfire found a man wounded and a second uninjured, Meyer said.

A Los Angeles County sheriff's vehicle
A Los Angeles County sheriff's vehicle in the parking lot of its training academy in Whittier, Calif., Nov. 16, 2022.Jae C. Hong / AP file

The first man was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

Just after midnight, in a community just outside Los Angeles on Florence Avenue, another gunfire report led deputies to a parking lot, where they found a man with gunshot wounds who ultimately was pronounced dead at the scene, Meyer said.

About 12 minutes later, yet another gunfire report in Cudahy sent deputies to the area, where they found two boys who had been struck. One was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other was stabilized at a hospital, Meyer said.

Just before 2 a.m. Monday, a Huntington Park police officer on patrol discovered a man down in the street, Meyer said. The man was declared dead at the scene, he said.

Meyer named none of the victims.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department took command, said Meyer, the captain of the sheriff's Homicide Bureau. Security camera video appeared to show a Honda Pilot SUV at or near each scene, he said.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies on patrol Monday afternoon came across a Pilot with a matching plate number, stopped it and took a person into custody, Meyer said.

Los Angeles detectives quickly took custody of the man, identified as Gary Jonathan Garcia Jr., 42. Meyer said he had an "extensive criminal history."

Another suspect was captured in Compton on Monday night with the help of SWAT team members, Meyer said. He was identified as Timberland Wayne McKneely, 20.

Meyer identified the suspect as Wayne McNeely Timberland at the news conference, but the identity with McNeely as a surname matches county jail inmate records and a sheriff's statement Tuesday night. He has no criminal history, Meyer said.

The suspects were each being held in lieu of $2 million bail, the sheriff’s department said in its Tuesday night statement. The department confirmed the two were also booked on suspicion of murder but added that charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder were also recommended in booking paperwork.

Meyer said a case would be forwarded to prosecutors for consideration of possible charges later this week.

The county public defender's office said by email that it is not representing the suspects, at least not yet, but that two of its lawyers tried unsuccessfully to meet with them in jail.

"Our office will continue its efforts to speak with both despite being denied access," the office said.

It was not clear which suspect, if either, is believed to have opened fire, Meyer said. He also said at the news conference that there was nothing to indicate that they knew any of the victims.

Both Garcia and Timberland, along with a third person wanted in connection with the attacks but not identified by name, are affiliated with a gang, he said.

Some of the Los Angeles gangs that have expanded across the region and country have roots southeast of downtown. Police did not name the specific gang the suspects are believed to belong to out of concern for public safety.

Alex Alonso, a Cal State Long Beach Chicano studies professor noted for his gang expertise, said he's unaware of a gang using random killings of people on the street as a rite of passage.

"It definitely doesn’t sound like a gang initiation," he said. "But who knows?"

Janice Hahn, the elected county supervisor who represents the region, praised the sheriff's department for nabbing suspects so soon after the crimes.

"I think it put everybody on edge," she said at the news conference. "I’m so grateful to stand here today."