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    Gang robbed cars along Angeles Crest Highway at least twice before murders, police say
    • July 30, 2023

    A street gang robbed multiple drivers parked along the Angeles Crest Highway in the days before the group allegedly killed a 32-year-old man who had stopped off with his passenger to enjoy a scenic overlook, according to authorities.

    Detectives from the Pasadena Police Department are now confident they can tie that same gang to “murders and other violent crimes that have occurred in Los Angeles County over the last week.” The department announced the arrest of six members of the gang on Wednesday, July 26, but ended up only bringing robbery charges against three of them. The others were released Friday.

    The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office alleges Luis Ventura, 23, of Los Angeles used a firearm to rob Jessie Munoz, the man killed in the Angeles National Forest, and a female passenger, who was uninjured during the attack.

    Two other suspects — Wendy Cerritos, 20, and Rossel Josue Hernandez, 21, both of Los Angeles — were charged with four and two counts of robbery, respectively, in connection with “robberies that occurred on Angeles Crest Highway the week preceding Munoz’s murder,” according to Pasadena police. Those robberies, which involved four different victims, occurred on July 18 and July 20.

    No one has been charged with Munoz’s murder, but the robbery charges give Pasadena’s Robbery/Homicide Unit more time to compile the larger case in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as state law requires suspects to be charged or released within 48 hours of their arrest.

    “RHU detectives are actively piecing together the elements and evidence related to the homicide of Jesse Munoz and working with LASD Homicide to ensure those responsible for the violence receive justice,” a spokesperson wrote in a press release.

    The homicide case is expected to be reviewed by prosecutors this weekend and additional charges could be filed on Monday.

    Pasadena is coordinating with sheriff’s detectives in an effort to tie the same gang members to a double homicide in Rancho Palos Verdes that occurred two days after the Angeles Crest Highway slaying. In the that case, three males allegedly approached a Subaru owned by Jorge Ramos, 36, as it was parked in a lot overlooking Pelican Cove. The men opened fire on Ramos, killing him and his passenger, TaylorRaven Whittaker, 26.

    A four suspect, believed to be a woman, waited nearby as the getaway driver, sheriff’s Detective Ray Lugo told the Los Angeles Times.

    The Sheriff’s Department will file its case separately with the District Attorney’s Office, though the cases still could be combined at a later date.

    Pasadena identified the suspects and their vehicle through the use of an undisclosed technology, according to police. The department’s SWAT team, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service and the LAPD, arrested the original six suspects late Tuesday, July 25 after using helicopters to tail them across Los Angeles County.

    Police boxed in the car in Panorama City and ordered the suspects out, one at a time, at gunpoint. Key News Network posted a recording of the arrest on YouTube.

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    ​ Orange County Register