BUENA PARK — About 50 police officers and volunteers searched a stretch of the Artesia Freeway on Friday for the engagement ring belonging to the fiancee of a slain Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, creating a massive traffic jam.
Police believe that two men suspected in the execution-type killing of Deputy Shayne York, 26, on Aug. 14 might have thrown the ring away when they were arrested on the freeway.
But even using metal detectors, the searchers on the westbound freeway between Beach Boulevard and Valley View Street could not find the ring.
Buena Park Police Lt. Tom Lucenti said the ring, custom-made by a jeweler who advertised in the Sheriff's Department's monthly magazine, "has value as a piece of evidence, and it also has monetary value. But it also has important emotional value for Deputy York's fiancee."
York and his fiancee, Jennifer Parish, 24, who is also a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, were at a Buena Park hair salon when two men stormed in and demanded wallets and valuables.
While going through York's wallet, they found his deputy's badge and ordered him to lie on the floor, face down, police said. One of them shot York in the back of the head. He died at a local hospital Saturday after he was removed from life support equipment.
Andre Willis, 30, and Kevin Boyce, 27, described by police as Compton gang members, were arrested several hours later after a witness gave police a description of the getaway car following a second holdup at Lamppost Pizza in Yorba Linda.
Police on Friday also searched that pizza parlor for the ring, without success.
They did, however, find "one piece of physical evidence linking the suspects to the Lamppost robbery" at the California Highway Patrol weigh station at Weir Canyon Road and the westbound Artesia Freeway, Sgt. Ken Coovert said. He declined to elaborate.
Caltrans officials said the freeway search required the closure of the right lane, the Knott Avenue offramp and the Beach Boulevard onramp from 10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. The closures resulted in monumental traffic jams on both the westbound Artesia and southbound Santa Ana freeways, said Caltrans spokesman Paul King.
"It impacted traffic a lot more than we anticipated. Although only one lane was closed, it was unbelievable how traffic was backed up. Traffic was backed up all the way to the Kraemer exit on the [Riverside] Freeway, and the southbound traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway was backed up from the [junction of the Artesia Freeway] to the Katella offramp," King said.