Eight suspects in the Santa Monica murders of Eddie Lopez (February 28, 2006) and Miguel Martin (December 27, 2006) were arrested late Wednesday and early Thursday, February 7 and 8, by the Santa Monica Police Department working in conjunction with Los Angeles Police and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Search and arrest warrants were executed at locations in West Los Angeles and Venice in a coordinated effort that led to the arrests of five adults and three juveniles who police believe to be members of a West LA street gang.
The charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and other serious crimes arise from not only the Lopez and Martin murders but also from shots fired at a group of men standing across the street from an elementary school where children were playing, shots fired at a couple seated in their vehicle and the shooting of a young woman as she walked into her apartment complex, all in Santa Monica.
SMPD Chief Timothy Jackman announced the arrests at a City Hall press conference Thursday afternoon, February 8, in which he was flanked by officers of the SMPD and LAPD and representatives of the District Attorney’s office. Also present were the families of Eddie Lopez and Miguel Martin and many city officials including Mayor Richard Bloom and Councilmembers Bob Holbrook and Herb Katz, City Manager P. Lamont Ewell, and City Attorney Marsha Moutrie.
“For the last two years our community here in Santa Monica has suffered through numerous gang-related shootings, two of which resulted in murder,” Jackman said. “These and other incidents have been attributed to a local gang from West Los Angeles…. The murders and shootings engaged in by the suspects in this case are acts of depravity that have terrorized parts of our community. The pain and heartache suffered over the last two years has been almost unfathomable.”
Arminda Lopez, the mother of Eddie Lopez, said that her first thought upon learning of the arrests was, “It is over.” Lucio Martin, the father of Miguel Martin, said that he had had no contact with the police in the course of the investigation until Thursday when officers came to his home to notify him of the arrests. Fr. Mike Gutierrez of St. Anne’s Church, which has recently hosted two town hall forums to address youth violence in Santa Monica and surrounding areas, said of the arrests, “Hopefully they will bring some reconciliation” to the community.
The five adults arrested on February 7 and 8, and the charges asserted against them at present, are: Jose Zapien, 18, of Los Angeles, charged with two counts of murder, nine counts of attempted murder and gang conspiracy; Andres Castillo, 18, of Los Angeles, arrested for conspiracy and gang conspiracy; Jon Carrillo, 19, of Los Angeles, charged with attempted murder and gang conspiracy; Victor Torres, 22, of Los Angeles, arrested for conspiracy and gang conspiracy; and Noah Farris, 22, of Los Angeles, charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon and gang conspiracy.
The juveniles arrested were two boys, aged 17 and 15, and one 15-year-old girl; she is charged with one count of murder. All are charged with other crimes at present, and all are Los Angeles residents.
Chief Jackman declined to give the name of the street gang involved, citing the “ongoing” nature of the investigation. He said that more arrests in the case were “possible,” but that he thought that the arrests made overnight on February 7 and 8 were reasonably comprehensive.
Anyone having information regarding any of these incidents is encouraged to contact the Robbery/Homicide unit of the Santa Monica Police Department at 310.458.8451 or the Watch Commander’s Office at 310.458.8427. Callers who wish to provide anonymous information may also call the WeTip national hotline at 1.800.78.CRIME (27463). Callers with information that leads to an arrest and conviction become eligible for a reward up to $1,000.