The family of man who was apparently beaten to death after allegedly trying to run down pedestrians in Hawthorne spoke out Monday as authorities continue to investigate the case.
The incident unfolded around 2 a.m. Saturday, after the driver — identified as 40-year-old Melguin Lopez-Santos — was apparently asked to leave the Rock It Sports Lounge, located at 14239 Hawthorne Blvd., following a verbal altercation, investigators said.
He returned to the bar, where he allegedly drove his truck onto the sidewalk and nearly hit multiple patrons, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department news release.
Lopez-Santos then lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a tree. Some of the patrons then surrounded the truck and tried to get him out, but he drove away and crashed into a nearby liquor store, authorities said.
A crowd of people again tried to remove Lopez-Santos from the vehicle, which led to a fight, the release stated.
At that point, Hawthorne Police Department officers arrived at the scene, having responded to multiple 911 calls regarding a truck attempting to strike pedestrians.
Police found Lopez-Santos on the sidewalk with apparent blunt-force trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incident, and on Monday, relatives sought justice for their loved one and said they wanted to know the full story.
“I feel like this was no accident, he was murdered. It wasn’t a car impact, somebody dragged him,” said Monica Perez, the man’s common law wife. “I want the truth. Somebody is covering something in this bar and we need to investigate.”
Lopez-Santos leaves behind four children, according to a GoFundMe account set up by Perez.
“This is not fair. His children are small, missing their father. Put yourself in my sister’s situation. How would you feel was one of your family members that is going through this,” said Ilene Perez, the sister-in-law of Lopez-Santos
But the family also said that they’re not defending his actions entirely, acknowledging that he was involved in some sort of altercation. Still, they say, no one should die that way.
An autopsy is pending and a cause of death has not been determined, coroner records showed.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or by going to the website lacrimestoppers.org.