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ORANGE COUNTY

3 Arrested in Buena Park Slaying

Crime: Argument leads to shooting of Compton businessman near his home. Police arrest two men, teen after a 30-mile chase that ends in crash. One is shot by officers.

October 03, 2002|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two men and a 17-year-old boy were arrested early Wednesday after they shot a Compton business owner to death in a residential neighborhood near his Buena Park home, police said.

The suspects were arrested after a 30-mile, high-speed chase along congested Orange County freeways. One of the suspects was shot in the shoulder by police after the car in which the men were riding slammed into a utility pole in Orange, said Buena Park Police Sgt. Rich Pena.

Police said they are not sure what motivated the fatal shooting of David Pete Montemayor, a 44-year-old father of three, but it could have been robbery or even road rage.

Montemayor, known to carry large sums of money, left his house about 6:30 a.m. and was seen unlocking the doors to his family-owned freight delivery company in Compton, police said.

Investigators said they are unsure what led Montemayor to the Buena Park neighborhood.

Residents said they heard an argument after Montemayor's white Ford Expedition and a blue Ford Bronco pulled onto Pinyon Street, only a mile from where Montemayor lived. They told police that they heard an argument and then saw Montemayor jump out of his car and run.

The suspects fired seven shots, striking him twice, police said.

Neighbors said they found Montemayor's body in the street. His SUV was abandoned nearby, its driver's door open and its engine running.

Officers spotted the Bronco speeding south on the Santa Ana Freeway, Pena said. Even in heavy morning traffic, police said the Bronco reached speeds of 75 mph as it weaved along the 133 and 241 toll roads before cutting west on the Riverside Freeway and then south on the Costa Mesa Freeway.

The pursuit ended about 7:40 a.m. at Tustin Street and Lincoln Avenue in Orange, when Buena Park police officers rammed the Bronco, causing the driver to lose control and hit an electricity pole.

Police opened fire, hitting one of the men in the shoulder, Pena said. He declined to say what prompted officers to shoot.

The Orange County district attorney's office and Orange police are investigating the shooting.

The injured suspect was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange for treatment and then booked into jail. The other man and the 17-year-old boy were arrested without incident. Police have not identified any of the suspects, though they said two were parolees.

Montemayor and his father owned Interfreight Transportation, a 15-year-old trucking and freight company that delivers dry goods, clothes and electronics.

"This doesn't make any sense," said the victim's brother, Darren Montemayor, 37, who came to the scene of the shooting after seeing reports on TV. "He was always willing to drop anything to help anyone. He doesn't deserve this. I can't believe this. I'm devastated."

Throughout the day, family and friends gathered at the Montemayor home. Friends brought shopping bags of food, drinks and flowers. They described Montemayor as a big man with a huge heart and a desire to help others.

They recalled that he'd spent the last weekend working at a carnival booth at his church, St. Pius Catholic Church in Buena Park. He loved to barbecue, attend car races in Pomona and take weekend getaways in his 34-foot recreational vehicle--nicknamed "Bertha"--with his wife, Susan, and their daughters, Amy, 11, and Rachel, 9, and 7-year-old son Luke.

Montemayor and his wife, a first-grade teacher's aide, had recently celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary.

"He wouldn't hurt anyone," said friend Kelly Beltran. "I don't know why they have to hurt someone who loved to make others laugh."

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