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Police Expect Prompt Resolution on San Fernando Murders PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 03:31

Little Action in Council Chambers

San Fernando police and Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies say they have identified the respective suspects in a pair of murders that have rocked the city in the past two months, and arrests could come at any moment.

"Both suspects have been identified," SFPD Lt. Tony Vairo said. "We're diligently working the cases and we should have some resolution next week."

On Oct. 6, Diego Martinez, 27, was stabbed to death with a knife in the rear parking lot of the 7 Mares Restaurant, located in the 1100 block of First Street in San Fernando.

"Two males got in an altercation and the victim was stabbed in the neck," explained SFPD Chief Robert Parks.

Police said the suspect was identified within seven hours of the stabbing.

"We know where he hangs around," said Parks.

"We know he's in the state and we have an active murder warrant out for him," Vairo added.

Second Murder


John Paul Villalta, 28, was killed on Nov. 11 at around 10:30 p.m. in the back parking lot of an apartment building along the 300 block of Hagar Street.

Authorities said an argument between the victim and another man led to Villalta being shot several times near a dumpster. He managed to walk about 20 feet until he fell between two parked cars.

According to Parks, "a couple of people were drinking beers and someone drove by in a car. That person shot the victim with a rifle."

Parks said the suspect in that case was also identified within 24 hours of the tragedy and "the arrest is going to take place very shortly."

Police have only described the suspected shooter as a Latino man in his 40s, who fled the scene in a newer model Ford Focus or Fiesta vehicle. The murders rocked the city, which had not recorded any violent death since 2006.

Subdued Council Meeting

Things were definitely quieter than usual at the Nov. 19 San Fernando City Council meeting, the first council meeting since both Mayor Brenda Esqueda and Councilmember Maribel De La Torre were recalled in a Nov. 6 special election. Both Esqueda and De La Torre were present.

For once, the often contentious public statement portion of the meeting (Esqueda's "favorite part of the meeting," as she said) was particularly short and free of the animosity exhibited all this year as residents had constantly criticized those on the council facing the recall.

This time, only a representative from Service International Employees Union (SEIU) spoke, appearing on behalf of the part-time city employees they represent who may be facing layoffs.

After that, no one spoke, leaving Esqueda somewhat befuddled. "That's a first," she said, as the chambers remained still. Apparently, there were no complaints this time. "We're all just happy," said Linda Campanella-Jauron, member of the Recall Committee.

The meeting itself was very short and with little action. The most debated issue was a proposal from Esqueda to change the yellow loading zone parking lot curbs in the San Fernando Mall to green, to provide additional 15-minute parking spaces in the area. Council members Sylvia Ballin and Antonio Lopez said they wanted to see a petition from the majority of the merchants supporting this.

In the end, the item was defeated in a 2-2 vote.

It seemed everyone was simply waiting for the new members of the council – Jesse H. Avila, Robert C. Gonzales (replacing former mayor and council member Mario Hernandez, who resigned in July), and Joel Fajardo – to take their seats.

The Los Angeles County still needs to certify the election results, which could come at the end of the month. The new members of the council should take their seats in December.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 03:35

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