SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) – A suspect tried to escape after fatally beating an off-duty San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy during a road rage incident, according surveillance video obtained Wednesday by CBS2.
On Sunday morning, 70-year-old Deputy Larry Falce was involved in a minor collision with another driver at University Avenue and Kendall Drive in San Bernardino. Security video from a nearby business shows that the crash may have been caused by two dogs running across the street.
Following the collision, Falce and the suspect appear to exit their vehicles and engage in a confrontation. After about one minute, the suspect is seen punching Falce, sending him crumbling to the ground.
As a few Good Samaritans rushed to provide aid to Falce, the video shows the suspect getting into his SUV and pulling away. However, a white truck then veers over and rams the SUV, which provided witnesses enough time to take down the vehicle’s license plate, San Bernardino police said.
The suspect was later tracked down and taken into custody, police confirmed. Alonzo Leron Smith, 30, who police say is a transient, was arrested Dec. 31 several hours after police say he attacked off-duty deputy Lawrence “Larry” Falce following a fender bender near Kendall Drive and University Parkway in San Bernardino.
Smith pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Smith was described by San Bernardino District Attorney Mike Ramos as a gang member who should have still been behind bars. In January of 2015, on an appeal, he was released after two years on a 12-year prison sentence, CBS2’s Dave Lopez reported.
“We need to get this career criminal off the street who’s been in prisons and jails ever since, ever since he was able to be tried as an adult,” Ramos said. “I get tired of this.”
Falce, a 36-year veteran of SBSD and the oldest deputy to serve in the department, passed away Tuesday at Loma Linda Medical Center after being taken off life support. A procession attended by hundreds transported his body late Tuesday night from the hospital to the county coroner’s office.
Falce is survived by his sister, nephew and longtime girlfriend.
“He was one of a kind, everybody that ever knew you, knows that,” his sister Marjorae Falce-Jorgensen told reporters late Tuesday night. “And you’re gonna leave a hole.”
“That made me beyond proud that he was one of the oldest deputies I’ve ever known, and I know a lot of them,” his nephew Robert Morrissey said. “And the fact that everyone was convincing him, ‘You need to retire, you need to stop.’ And he was like, ‘Nope, I’m gonna keep on going. As long as I’m riding around in a marked patrol vehicle,’ he would be happy.”
Before joining the department in 1981, Falce served in the U.S. Army.
“He prided himself as being a lifelong public servant, who cared deeply about this profession,” Lt. Sarkis Ohannessian said in a statement. “Larry was loved by his peers and the community members he served. More importantly, he cared about so many people he called family.”