The killing in an Irvine backyard Monday occurred because a landscaping worker became so angry at his boss' complaints about his work that he hit him in the head with a shovel, police said Tuesday.
The dead man, Woo Sung Park, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was the owner of Blue Bird Landscape of Rancho Santa Margarita. His employees described him as a fair boss.
"They said he was a nice guy, not unreasonable at all," said Irvine Lt. Rick Handfield.
Parks' alleged killer has not been definitively identified by police, but the suspect said his name is Ernesto Avalos and that he is a 26-year-old resident of Santa Ana, Handfield said.
Avalos said that Monday was his third day working for Blue Bird Landscape, according to police.
On Tuesday, Avalos remained hospitalized in police custody for treatment of injuries suffered when officers used less-than-lethal guns to subdue him when he refused to drop a shovel and pick ax.
Irvine police have recommended that the district attorney file murder charges against him, Handfield said.