A father and son were arrested Thursday in connection with three cold case slayings that took place several years ago in East Los Angeles, officials said.
The suspects, identified as 51-year-old Manuel Velasquez and 31-year-old Anthony Velasquez, were taken into custody without incident during the execution of a search warrant in the 300 block of Humphreys Avenue about 4:30 a.m., according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department news release.
They are believed to be involved in three killings that occurred within 2.2 miles of each other in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
The first incident occurred Feb. 10, 2014, when the victim, 34-year-old Jesse Avalos, received a call from an acquaintance asking for help jumpstarting his vehicle.
A few hours later, deputies received a call about an injured person in the 4800 block of Telegraph Road in East L.A. They arrived to find Avalos on the driver’s seat of his SUV with multiple gunshot wounds.
The second homicide occurred July 6, 2015, following a physical altercation at a home in the 4300 block of Eagle Street.
The victim, 38-year-old Eduardo Robles, was visiting the residence when the fight occurred, investigators said.
After the fight, an assailant walked over to Robles’ vehicle and slashed all four tires with a sharp object before fleeing the scene.
The same person is believed to have returned with a gun about five minutes later and shot Robles several times in the upper body.
The third slaying occurred on April 22, 2018, when investigators say a killer went searching for 27-year-old Amanda “Nikki” Lopez in a homeless encampment in front of the East Los Angeles Courthouse.
The assailant found Lopez in a tent and fatally shot her while she slept, officials said.
Ballistic evidence from the 2014 and 2015 killings helped authorities determine the same gun was used in both cases.
Investigators believe Anthony Velasquez knew the victims and is the one who shot and killed all three of them, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It seems to us that at some point, their relationships went awry,” Lt. Hugo Reynaga told the Times.
Anthony Velasquez was booked Thursday on suspicion of murder and is being held on $2 million bail.
Detectives also believe that Manuel Velasquez was at the scene of each of the killings, acting as a getaway driver at least once, the newspaper reported.
Manuel Velasquez spoke to KTLA via phone from jail following his arrest Thursday, saying he was “100% innocent.”
“If they say I drove him somewhere, I took him somewhere not knowing what he was doing,” he said. ‘I don’t even know if he did it. No one knows for sure.”
Homicide investigators were also still searching the home where the Velasquezes were arrested later Thursday, attempting to locate the firearms connected to the slayings.
The arrests were announced about a month after L.A. County sheriff’s detectives offered an $80,000 reward in exchange for information on those responsible for the three homicides.
Detectives received several calls from witnesses and people identifying the suspects the same day as the conference, the Times reported.