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Suspect in Slaying of Boy Caught

Crime: High-speed chase leads to arrest. The victim's sister and grandmother were wounded in the Alhambra shooting.

May 02, 2001|SCOTT GLOVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hours before friends and family would cry in grief over the open casket of 12-year-old Timothy Koppos, the man accused of fatally shooting the sixth-grader was arrested by Alhambra police early Tuesday after a high-speed pursuit.

Daniel Jesus Arzaga, 20, was taken into custody after the sport utility vehicle in which he was a passenger went out of control while being chased by police and crashed in Santa Fe Springs, said Alhambra Police Lt. Elliot Kase.

Arzaga was booked on suspicion of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the April 22 shootings of Timothy, his sister and grandmother, authorities said. He is being held without bail.

According to police, Arzaga was the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Timothy's sister, 18-year-old Colleen Koppos.

He allegedly shot Timothy and Colleen and their grandmother, Bertha Tate, after an argument at Tate's Alhambra home.

A family member said that Tate remains hospitalized and that Colleen Koppos has been released and is recovering from her injuries.

Meanwhile, friends and family gathered at a Pasadena mortuary to say goodbye to Timothy, a boy who enjoyed camping, fishing and playing hand-held computer games.

The 12-year-old's body lay in a blue coffin, the silk lining embroidered with the words "In God's Care." A chain of roses was looped around his upper body and a rosary was placed in his hands.

Robert Koppos, a burly moving company employee, burst into tears as he leaned over his son's coffin.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you," Koppos said between sobs. "I'm sorry, boy. I love you, Timmy."

Timothy's stepmother, Donna Canfield Koppos, sat on the edge of the casket, caressing the boy's hand and smoothing back his hair.

"I know he's going to be OK. He's going to be with God, and his first mom. Now, she's going to take care of him."

Donna Koppos said Timothy's mother was shot to death about five years ago.

Outside the mortuary, Robert Koppos called his son's alleged killer "heartless."

"Justice was done today," he said, referring to Arzaga's arrest.

Donna Koppos praised authorities for acting so quickly.

"I think the police worked really hard on this," she said. "And I'm relieved. If he was that dangerous before he was a wanted criminal, how dangerous do you think he became after that?"

Lt. Kase said police received a tip about Arzaga's whereabouts just after midnight. Police attempted to stop the Ford Expedition he was in, but the driver failed to yield, he said.

The pursuit began in East Los Angeles, near the intersection of the Long Beach and Pomona freeways. It continued for more than an hour, with the California Highway Patrol taking over, before ending in Santa Fe Springs. CHP officers turned Arzaga over to Alhambra police, Kase said.

Timothy's funeral will be at 10 a.m. today at Angeleno Pasadena Mortuary. He will be buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale.

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