LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Two reputed gang members were charged Tuesday with capital murder in the shooting death last month of and off-duty Los Angeles police officer.
Cristian Facundo, 20, of Murrieta, and Francisco Talamantes III, 24, of Temecula, are facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the July 27 shooting of Officer Juan Jose Diaz in Lincoln Heights, according to prosecutors.
The pair also faces a special circumstance allegation of murder for the benefit of a street gang.
Ashlynn Smith, 18, of Temecula, was charged with shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and vandalism. She also faces a count of being an accessory after the fact.
Police told CBSLA’s Dave Lopez a fourth woman who was with the three suspects the night of the shooting was detained, but has not been charged as of Tuesday evening.
Investigators say on the night of the shooting, Diaz went to a taco truck with his girlfriend when he was gunned down by gang members, apparently because he tried to stop one of them from tagging.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Capt. William Hayes of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division said Diaz and his group spotted Facundo and Smith walking on the other side of the street, and saw Facundo bend down and begin painting graffiti on a sidewalk.
When Diaz and another member of his group questioned Facundo, he became aggressive toward them and lifted his shirt to reveal that
he was carrying a handgun, Hayes said.
Facundo then walked away for a moment as Diaz and those with him left the area and got into a vehicle to leave the scene.
“He did exactly what we ask our officers to do,” Police Chief Michel Moore said.
As they began to drive off, Facundo and Talamantes ran along the right side of the vehicle, and Facundo fired several rounds through the rear window, striking Diaz and another man inside, according to Hayes.
Diaz died at the scene, and the other man was critically injured.
The shooting occurred after Facundo, Talamantes, Smith, and the unidentified woman carried out a 90-minute crime spree in which they went to the 2500 block of West Avenue 33 and vandalized a vehicle belonging to a former boyfriend of one of the women, Hayes said.