LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An arrest has been made in connection with the South LA shooting deaths of two childhood friends, one of whom was a math and astronomy scholar studying at UC Irvine, authorities said Wednesday.
Jonathan Charles Johnson, 26, was taken into custody Friday after he was spotted driving a blue 2004 Nissan Maxima that was wanted in the killings of Jose Flores Velazquez and Alfredo Carrera last Wednesday. The car had been spotted by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies patrolling near the corner of Via Princessa and Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.
A 25-year-old woman was also detained during the traffic stop, but was later released without being charged.
Johnson is a known gang member, according to sheriff’s officials. Because of the ongoing investigation, authorities are not releasing his booking photo.
Investigators are still looking for others in connection with the shooting, but details about how many were not released. It’s not clear if Johnson was the shooter, or what the motive may have been for the shooting.
When asked if the suspects may have been driving around looking for a victim, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred said, “It could be.”
Last Wednesday’s shootings killed Velazquez and Carrera as they were saying goodbye in Carrera’s driveway. Velazquez was visiting his old South LA neighborhood to bring baby gifts to Carrera. The two men had grown up together, living just six houses apart.
A neighbor who had been putting his 1-year-old daughter in her car seat was also hit by gunfire while shielding her from the bullets.
Since the shootings, the families continue to mourn the loss of the two childhood friends. Velazquez was a Ph.D. candidate at UC Irvine, and Carrera was expecting his first child with his girlfriend.
“These are hard-working people who worked so long to better their lives just to become victims of random violence,” Alfred said.
Johnson made his first court appearance Tuesday on two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle at another person. He is being held on $2 million bail.
The firearm used in the shootings is still missing, authorities said. Anyone who may have seen the car before the shooting is asked to call police.