A dozen men were arrested and eight have been charged in a deadly mass shooting that occurred when they mistakenly thought they were attacking a rival gang during a Halloween party in Long Beach last year, officials said Tuesday.
Two of the suspects were already incarcerated, and the remaining 10 were taken into custody during an operation that began Sept. 2. The men all belong to the same local gang, Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna announced in a news conference.
Luna called the Oct. 29 incident a case of “cowards shamelessly shooting into a backyard,” killing three and wounding nine “innocent men and women at a family residence.”
They fatally struck three men: Maurice Poe Jr., 25, of Long Beach; Melvin Williams II, a 35-year-old Gardena resident; and Ricardo Torres, a 28-year-old Inglewood man.
Luna said some of the wounded victims suffered life-altering injuries.
Last month, a former college basketball player who was shot in the neck told KTLA she is still struggling to learn how to walk again. Jasmine Johnson has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for her ongoing therapy and recovery.
In all, the wounded victims include seven women and two men who range in age from 20 to 49, prosecutors say.
The perpetrators allegedly gathered on the 5700 block of Orange Avenue before driving to the shooting location, a home about 7 miles south on the 2700 block of East Seventh Street that they incorrectly thought was hosting a rival gang’s party.
“And I want to clarify that none of the victims — none of the victims at that party — were gang members,” Luna said.
Police say the shooters parked in an alley behind the home, walked toward the fence and fired into the backyard around 10:40 p.m., as about 25 to 30 people were gathered there.
Luna called the case “extremely complex and detailed,” but said he believes the allegations can be proved in court.
Those taken into custody during last week’s operation include:
- David Long, 20, of Long Beach, who was arrested in Long Beach on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Christopher Williams, 28, of Redlands, who was arrested in Redlands and booked on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Ryan Sim, 18, of Long Beach, who was arrested in San Jose and booked on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Kaylin Thik, 21, of Ontario, who was arrested in Ontario and booked on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Derrik Mith, 27, of Ontario, who was arrested in Ontario and booked on $35,000 bail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
- Joshua Sam, 41, of Long Beach, who was arrested in Long Beach and booked on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Grant Johnson, 35, of Orange, who was arrested in Orange and booked on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Dara Chhun, 27, of Spring Valley, who was arrested in Spring Valley and booked on $1 million on suspicion of acting as an accessory to murder.
- Samnang Long, 37, of Long Beach, who was arrested in Long Beach and booked on $35,000 bail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
- Andy Prok, 28, of Long Beach, who was arrested in Long Beach and booked on $35,000 bail on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in public.
The suspects previously in custody include:
- Danny Sourn, 26, of Long Beach, who was in custody in connection with a 2018 homicide. He was booked again on $2 million bail on suspicion of murder.
- Jeremy Penh, 25, of Long Beach, who was in custody for an unrelated attempted homicide this year. He was booked on $1 million bail.
Long, Thik, Sim, Penh, Williams, Sourn, Sam and Johnson have each been charged with three counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder in the case, according to a news release form the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors are also seeking sentencing enhancements, including for the allegation that they committed multiple murders while members of a gang — which means they could face the death penalty.
The Los Angeles Times said its reporters spoke to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case, who said all the suspects are members of the Tiny Rascal Gangsters, a Cambodian gang.
Seven of the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, while Long’s arraignment is set for Sept. 11, the DA’s office said.
Police say the operation that netted the suspects included seven search warrants served in Long Beach and eight additional warrants served in other cities statewide. Long Beach police were aided by several agencies across California as well as the FBI and U.S. Marshals in their investigation.
Authorities seized eight firearms during the arrests, including three “ghost guns,” Luna said. However; the chief said forensic analysis is still pending to determine whether any of the weapons seized were used in the shooting.
Ballistic testing showed shots were fired from three different handguns, according to the chief. He did not provide further details on the exact roles those who didn’t fire a weapon are suspected of playing.
Luna believes everyone involved is now in custody, but asked anyone who may have more information to come forward, “because there may have been others that were either directly involved or indirectly involved.”