Man Found Beaten to Death Under Santa Monica Pier Was Sleeping After Fishing Trip, Not Homeless, Family Says

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A San Gabriel man found beaten to death under the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday morning was not homeless but had chosen to sleep there after an overnight fishing trip, his family said.

The victim, identified Friday as 39-year-old Steven Ray Cruze Jr., was initially described as homeless by the Santa Monica Police Department, setting off concerns his death was linked to a brutal series of attacks that left two homeless men dead and a third critically injured in downtown Los Angeles earlier in the week.

The victim’s relatives, however, said Friday that Cruze lived with his parents in San Gabriel. He enjoyed fishing at night in Santa Monica and sometimes slept outside on a hammock, said his aunt, Jennifer Smith.

Investigators said they are still trying to determine if his death is linked to the killings in Los Angeles. All four victims were attacked while they slept outside, and all suffered blunt-force injuries.

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