The FBI and Los Angeles police have arrested a 25-year-old man in the shooting deaths of at least three rival gang members, officials said Thursday.
William Vasquez was taken into custody Oct. 13 at the apartment complex where he lived in the Westlake district, investigators said. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three murder charges and was being held on $2-million bail.
"They believe he may be tied to other murders," said Lt. Paul Vernon, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Detectives said Vasquez, who went by the street name "Crook," was believed to have shot a rival gang member to death in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles about three years ago. The LAPD declined to provide further information about the incident.
Santa Monica Police Lt. Frank Fabrega said that at about 11 p.m. on March 5, an argument between gang members attending a private party at Moose Lodge on Ocean Park Boulevard erupted into gunfire. Slain were Jonathan Hernandez, 19, and Hector Bonilla, 25. A third man was wounded in the leg.
"There were 50 to 70 witnesses," Fabrega said.
He said leads developed from those witnesses led to Vasquez's arrest.
Another suspect in the Santa Monica shootings, Jose Mojarro, 21, was arrested earlier, and a third, Ector Hugo Sanchez, 26, is still being sought.
The FBI said the bureau was involved in the cases because a federal warrant had been issued accusing Vasquez of unlawful flight over a state line to avoid prosecution.