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Downey police question man in shootings that killed three

Two other men and a woman who were detained earlier have been released. The gunman shot five people; police say the shootings were 'not a random act.'

October 26, 2012|By Richard Winton and Wesley Lowery, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles County coroner's office workers remove one of two bodies from the United States Fire Protection Services business in the 8700 block of Cleta Street in Downey. Three people were killed and two others were injured in a pair of shootings at the fire extinguisher business and a house two blocks away.
Los Angeles County coroner's office workers remove one of two bodies… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

A man matching the description of the gunman who shot five people — killing three and critically wounding two — was being questioned Thursday night by Downey police.

Two other men and a woman who had been detained and questioned in connection with Wednesday's shooting rampage have been released, Lt. Dean Milligan said at an evening news conference. Police recovered a vehicle stolen from one of the victims by the gunman.

The three people killed were identified as Josimar Rojas, 26, of Downey; Irene Cardenas, 35, of Cudahy; and Susana Perez-Ruelas, 34, of Downey, police said.

In a statement, Downey police said they had "developed information that led to the detention of an adult subject matching the description of the suspect involved in the fatal shooting." The man, whose name has not been released, "is currently in the process of being questioned."

The shootings shocked residents in the southeast Los Angeles County city. Police said that they do not know the motive for the attack, but that it was "targeted" and "not a random act of violence."

The violence unfolded shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday, when a man entered United States Fire Protection Services on Cleta Street, police said. The attacker killed Rojas and Cardenas and wounded another woman; she remains hospitalized.

Family members of some of the victims said Thursday that the shooting was the result of an attempted robbery of a black 2010 Camaro advertised for sale on Craigslist.

One person close to the family said the shooter showed up at the business and demanded the keys to the car. When a female family member working at the business refused, she was shot and wounded. Two others in the building, a man and woman, were shot and killed, the family member said.

Immediately following that shooting, the person said, another family member and her 13-year-old son stopped by the business on their way to a dentist appointment. The suspect forced them to drive him in a Chevy truck to the family's home to get the keys to the Camaro. After retrieving the keys, the gunman shot and killed the woman and wounded the son, the person said.

Authorities say they have yet to confirm details of the attack and could not confirm whether the shooting was related to the potential sale of the Camaro.

Police initially said that all of the shooting victims were related, but people identifying themselves as family members have told various media outlets that at least one of the victims was not related to the rest.

Downey police said Thursday that they were working to locate other family members and residents of the house, which property records show is in foreclosure.

The shootings turned the normally quiet street into a chaotic scene. Witnesses described seeing the wounded 13-year-old boy running out of the house, screaming hysterically, and another woman sitting outside the business, bleeding from the head.

On Thursday, neighbors and friends placed candles and flowers in a small memorial outside the family home. Many said they're searching for a reason for the attack.

richard.winton@latimes.com

wesley.lowery@latimes.com

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