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Suspect Held in Slayings of 3 Baja Officers

February 23, 1988|From Staff and Wire Reports

ENSENADA — Mexican authorities Monday arrested a man wanted in the killings of three police officers during a shooting rampage Sunday in a small Baja California town.

Francisco Podesta Corrado, 29, was arrested without incident at a relative's house in Ensenada. He allegedly confessed to the police slayings and another killing in the Ensenada area, Mexican authorities said.

The officers were shot to death Sunday morning in La Rumorosa, about 12 miles south of Jacumba, Calif. The town is about halfway between Tecate and Mexicali on Highway 2.

The arrest ended a 24-hour manhunt by more than 200 Mexican police officers along the border and in Baja California's rugged mountains. U.S. authorities also participated in the search.

Witnesses said the shooting spree began when a man with a .30-caliber rifle entered a State Judicial Police building shortly after 8 a.m. and fired two shots. One of the bullets hit Fernando Manuel Valdivia Salgado, 30, in the heart, killing him.

The gunman then walked to a nearby office of the Tecate Municipal Police, where he fired five shots at point-blank range, witnesses said.

Officers Leopoldo Ramirez Robles, 64, and Jose Espinosa Sanchez, 77, were fatally shot in their backs while sitting at their desks, Gustavo Romero Meza, chief of the Baja California State Judicial Police, told The Associated Press. Espinosa had spent 30 years on the force and Ramirez was a 10-year veteran.

Podesta told investigators he had argued with the slain policemen in the past, Romero said.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies and U.S. Border Patrol officers participated in the border search.

A sheriff's helicopter scanned the border area from Tecate to Jacumba, and a dozen Border Patrol agents and sheriff's deputies searched the border region.

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