Police have issued an arrest warrant for a San Fernando Valley gang member suspected of killing a young driver in a road-rage incident earlier this year.
Luis Alberto Gutierrez, Jr., 24, was named as suspect in the July 13 Arleta slaying, the Los Angeles Police Department announced Thursday.
He had been “on the run” since investigators began asking questions about him in early August, police said.
The incident occurred at 3 p.m. on Branford Avenue when three men in a red Kia — who were on their way to play basketball — were approached by a gray Dodge Challenger in the right lane, LAPD officials said.
Gutierrez — known as “Green Eyes” in his street gang, according to police — was identified by passengers of the Kia, who recalled a man with “striking green eyes” behind the wheel of the Challenger.
Police say the suspect took out a gun while driving and fired a single shot into the Kia, hitting its driver, 22-year-old Richard Ruiz, in the neck.
Ruiz was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that day.
“Our victim was a nice kid, with no gang ties or criminal history,” Lt. Paul Vernon said in a news release. ”He and his friends were on their way to play basketball that afternoon when Gutierrez decided to rage for no good reason.”
LAPD officials received a tip about Gutierrez’s identity from his boss, which they say “broke the case open.”
Gutierrez had worked at a North Hollywood business and began “acting aloof” and changing his appearance in the days after the shooting, his employer told police.
“As soon as we started inquiring about Gutierrez (at his workplace), he abandoned his job and has been on the run ever since,” Lt. Paul Vernon said.
Detectives believe Gutierrez is still in the Southern California area but think he is likely making trips back and forth to Mexico. The suspect was on probation for carrying a loaded gun and had missed appointments with his probation officer, according to police.
Anyone with information was asked to call LAPD Detective Ryan Verna at 818-838-9976. Anonymous tips can also be made by calling 800-222-8477 (TIPS) or texting 274637 (CRIMES).