LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Police say Ramon Escobar, 47, the man arrested in connection with recent attacks on homeless people in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, has now been linked to a total of seven assaults in two cities.
Three of the victims — two in Los Angeles and one in Santa Monica — have died. Police say they recovered a wooden baseball bat and a pair of bolt cutters from Escobar’s car that are believed to have been used in the attacks.
The suspect was arrested Monday in Santa Monica following the early morning assault of a man in the 1500 block of Seventh Street. That man remains in a coma.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday night that Escobar had been deported six times between 1997 and 2011. ICE said in a statement that the Salvadoran national was freed from federal custody in January 2017 after an immigration court decision.
Escobar was ordered removed from the U.S. by a federal immigration judge in February 1988.
ICE said that a detainer was filed against Escobar following his arrest Monday in Los Angeles for murder.
The attacks on three homeless men in downtown Los Angeles occurred on Sept. 16. Two of the men died with the other still in the hospital in critical condition.
The other attacks included a Sept. 8 assault of a person sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica, with the victim released from the hospital; a Sept. 10 attack on a man also sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica, with that man still in a coma; and the Sept. 20 fatal beating of 39-year-old Steven Cruze Jr. of San Gabriel, under the Santa Monica Pier.
Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Billy Hayes said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference at LAPD headquarters that police plan to present their investigations to the District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday — three murder investigations and four attempted murder probes.
Hayes said the attacks did not appear to be based on any hatred toward homeless people, even though all of the victims except Cruze were apparently homeless.
“I think it was a crime of opportunity,” he said. “… It appears the motive in most of these cases was robbery.”
Escobar is also wanted for questioning in the disappearances of his aunt and uncle in Houston, Texas in late August.
After police questioned him he took off. Arriving in California on Sept. 5.
“You don’t think that a family member is going to be charged with crimes that may be connected,” said Lia Salamanco, Escobar’s cousin. “Or the gruesomeness of the details of those crimes. “It’s been very surreal for the whole family.”
Escobar will make his first appearance in court Wednesday and is currently being held on no bond.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)