Man charged with 4 counts of murder in Los Angeles-area shooting spree

Gerry Dean Zaragoza, 26, faces up to life in prison without a chance of parole or the death penalty, prosecutors said.
Image: Mourners
Michael Ramia and Marisa Schetz place flowers at the apartment where their co-worker Carlos Zaragoza's family was shot in the Canoga Park section of Los Angeles on Friday, July 26, 2019. Police said Zaragoza killed his father and brother and wounded his mother at the apartment complex.Stefanie Dazio / AP

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By Phil Helsel

A man accused of killing his father, brother, an ex-girlfriend and another man in a Los Angeles-area shooting spree last week has been charged with four counts of murder, prosecutors said Monday.

Gerry Dean Zaragoza, 26, faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if convicted, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty has not yet been made, the district attorney’s office said. Gov. Gavin Newsom in March declared a moratorium on executions, but prosecutors can still seek the death penalty.

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Zaragoza is accused of fatally shooting his father, Carlos Ignacio Zaragoza, 56, his brother, Carlos Pierre Zaragoza, 33, and shooting and wounding his mother who was struck in the hand at their Canoga Park home on Thursday.

Zaragoza then allegedly fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, Azucena Lepe-Ayala, 45, at a gas station in North Hollywood, and shooting and wounding another employee there, officials said.

Zaragoza tried to rob a man at an ATM and was unsuccessful and then allegedly fatally shot another man Detwonia Harris, 55, on a bus in Van Nuys, the district attorney’s office said.

This undated photo released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows Gerry Dean Zaragoza. Authorities have arrested Zaragoza, accused of shooting multiple people, in two attacks early Thursday, July 25, 2019, in Los Angeles that officials say took the lives of two of his family members and an acquaintance, police said.Los Angeles Police Department via AP

Police have said that there was no interaction between Zaragoza and Harris, and that Zaragoza was getting off the bus when he turned around and shot Harris, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Zaragoza was arrested more than 12 hours after the first shootings in Canoga Park were reported, police have said.

He is being held without bail, according to jail records.

Zaragoza is charged with four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count of attempted robbery, and the criminal complaint contains a special circumstance allegation making him eligible for the death penalty, the district attorney’s office said.