Hombres Acusados de Matar a Dos Jóvenes Se Declaran Inocentes

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Dos hombres acusados en el asesinato de dos jóvenes en el parque regional Ernest E. Debs en Montecito Heights se declararon no culpables de un cargo de asesinato.

José Antonio Echeverría, 19, y Dallas Stone Pineda, 17, continúan encarcelados sin derecho a fianza. Se espera regresen a la corte el primero de junio cuando se fijará la fecha para una audiencia para determinar si existe evidencia suficiente para someterlos a juicio.

Ambos están acusados de los asesinatos de Gabriela Calzada, 19, y Briana Gallegos, 17 ocurridos en octubre de 2015.

Los cuerpos de las víctimas fueron encontrados por una mujer que paseaba a su perro a las 2:20pm el 28 de octubre y sus muertes fueron clasificadas como homicidios rápidamente. Briana fue reportada como desaparecida alrededor de las 9pm el 28 de octubre, aproximadamente siete horas después que se encontraron los cuerpos cerca de avenidas Mercury y Boundary a lo largo de una ruta del parque Debs.

La demanda criminal alega que las víctimas murieron el o cerca del 27 de octubre.

Gabriela Calzada (izq.) y Briana Gallegos fueron asesinadas en Oct. 2015.

Gabriela Calzada (izq.) y Briana Gallegos fueron asesinadas en Oct. 2015.

Los cargos de asesinato incluyen alegatos de circunstancia especial de asesinatos múltiples y asesinato mientras los acusados eran participantes activos en una pandilla criminal, y que los asesinatos se llevaron a cabo para promover las actividades de una pandilla criminal.

Los fiscales decidirán más adelante si pedirán la pena de muerte contra Echeverría. Pineda no puede ser condenado a pena de muerte debido a su edad, a pesar de que está siendo procesado como adulto.

La queja criminal alega que Echeverría descargó personalmente un rifle en la comisión de los crímenes, matando a Calzada.

La policía no había divulgado previamente una causa de muerte de las víctimas, y sólo dijo que sus cuerpos mostraban signos de trauma por objeto contundente. El Jefe del departamento de policía de Los Ángeles Charlie Beck dijo que una de las víctimas había recibido disparos, y ambas fueron golpeadas.

Echeverría también está acusado de un cargo de intento de asesinato y por disparar contra un vehículo ocupado, ambos presuntamente cometidos el 29 de enero.

Echeverría también fue acusado de un cargo de supuestamente llevar contrabando al Centro de Detención Metropolitano de la policía de Los Ángeles 30 de enero.

La policía dijo que las muertes fueron el resultado de una pelea de pandillas de larga duración.

Gallegos era residente de Pico Rivera y estudiante de la Academia Sonia Sotomayor en Glassell Park. Los amigos de Calzada dijeron que ella soñaba con ser bombero forestal.

El alcalde Eric Garcetti dijo que Calzada era una participante—y más tarde una líder de—el programa de verano Summer Night Lights el cual intenta reducir el crimen y la participación de pandillas en Glassell Park.

Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Murder of Women in Montecito Heights

April 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two people accused in the killings of a young woman and a teenage girl in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights pleaded not guilty to a capital murder charge Tuesday.

Jose Antonio Echeverria, 19, and Dallas Stone Pineda, 17, remain jailed without bail. They’re due back in court June 1, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.

They are accused in the October killings of Gabriela Calzada, 19, and Briana Gallegos, 17. The victims’ bodies were found by a woman walking her dog at 2:20 p.m. Oct. 28, and their deaths were quickly classified as homicides. Briana was reported missing about 9 p.m. Oct. 28, roughly seven hours after the bodies were found near Mercury and Boundary avenues along a walking path through Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.

The criminal complaint alleges that the victims were killed on or about Oct. 27.

Gabriela Calzada (left) and Bianca Gallegos were killed Oct. 2015.

Gabriela Calzada (left) and Bianca Gallegos were killed Oct. 2015.

The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder while the defendants were active participants in a criminal street gang, and that the murders were carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang.
Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Echeverria. Pineda cannot be sent to death row due to his age, even though he is being prosecuted as an adult.

The criminal complaint alleges that Echeverria personally discharged a rifle in the commission of the crimes, killing Calzada.

Police had not previously divulged a cause of death of the victims, saying only that their bodies showed signs of blunt-force trauma. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said one of the victims had been shot, and both were beaten.

Echeverria is also charged with one count each of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, both allegedly committed Jan. 29.

Echeverria was also charged with one count of allegedly bringing contraband into the LAPD’s Metropolitan Detention Center Jan. 30.
Police said the killings were the result of a long-running gang feud.

Gallegos was a Pico Rivera resident and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park. Friends said Calzada dreamed of being a wild land firefighter.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said Calzada was a participant in — and later a leader of — the Summer Night Lights anti-crime and anti-gang program in
Glassell Park.

Updated 5;15 p.m.

Two Charged in Killing of Woman, Girl in Debs Park

February 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two people were charged with capital murder today in connection with the killings of a young woman and a teenage girl in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights — killings that police described as the result of a long-running gang feud.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II ordered Jose Antonio Echeverria, 18, and Dallas Stone Pineda, 17, to be held without bail while awaiting arraignment March 8 in connection with the killings of Gabriela Calzada, 19, and Briana Gallegos, 17, in late October.

The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder while the defendants were active participants in a criminal street gang, and that the murders were carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Echeverria. Pineda cannot be sent to death row due to his age, even though he is being prosecuted as an adult.

The criminal complaint alleges that Echeverria personally discharged a rifle in the commission of the crimes, killing Calzada.

 

Gabriela Calzada, 19, (Facebook)

Gabriela Calzada, 19, (Facebook)

Briana Gallegos, 17, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Police had not previously divulged a cause of death of the victims, saying only that their bodies showed signs of blunt-force trauma. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck confirmed today that one of the victims had been shot, and both were beaten.

“These victims were brutally murdered,” Beck said. “They were known to the suspects who committed the murder. They were also specifically targeted by those suspects. One of the victims was shot. Both of the victims were bludgeoned. It was a horrific scene.”

Beck would not provide details of the motive for the crime, nor would he discuss possible gang affiliations of the victims, but he said the killings were the result “of a longstanding feud” between gangs.

“This was motivated by hatred between gangs,” he said.

He called the victims “young vibrant women who certainly did not deserve to die.”

The victims’ bodies were found by a woman walking her dog at 2:20 p.m. Oct. 28, and their deaths were quickly classified as homicides. Briana was reported missing about 9 p.m. Oct. 28, roughly seven hours after the bodies were found near Mercury and Boundary avenues along a walking path through Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.

The criminal complaint alleges that the victims were killed on or about Oct. 27.

Echeverria was also charged with one count each of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, both allegedly committed Jan. 29. Details of that shooting were not immediately available. Echeverria was also charged with one count of allegedly bringing contraband into the LAPD’s Metropolitan Detention Center Jan. 30.

Pineda’s mother told reporters Wednesday that her son was not involved in the killings, insisting he was home the night the victims died.

“He was home,” the woman told NBC4. “My son was home. They asked me time and time again, and I keep telling them, I know where my kids are at all times. My son was here.”

Gallegos was a Pico Rivera resident and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park. Friends said Calzada dreamed of being a wildland firefighter.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Calzada was a participant in — and later a leader of — the Summer Night Lights anti-crime and anti-gang program in Glassell Park.

“In that work she had committed herself to turning her life around, to making our parks a safe place for people to gather and be a refuge and (for) other young people who might be able to avoid the kind of violence that ended up costing her own life and Briana’s,” Garcetti said.

“… We know these arrests will not bring back these two young women, but we hope that their loved ones will have a measure of some reassurance, and everyone in the city of Los Angeles will know that you can find some comfort in the knowledge that these alleged killers are no longer on our streets.”

City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes a portion of Debs Park, thanked the LAPD for their diligence in arresting the suspects.

“And while much of the day’s focus is about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these two young ladies, our outrage is about the lives they didn’t get to lead because of this brutal and heinous act,” Huizar said.

 

Update: 4:45 With information of alleged gang feud; Remarks from Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charles Beck.

 

Montecito Heights Homes Searched for Evidence In Debs Park Killings

November 12, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

There’s been a break in the murder of two young women whose bodies were found two weeks ago at a Montecito Heights park.

An unspecified number of individuals were detained today following the execution of three search warrants at homes on the 3400 block of Galena Street, according to authorities.

“We are looking for any evidence that may be related to the homicide that occurred in Debs Park and may help move the investigation forward,” LAPD Hollenbeck Capt. Martin Baeza told EGP. “We are going to be questioning some individuals because we believe they have some information involving this case.”

Police served search warrants in at least three locations in Montecito Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Police served search warrants in at least three locations in Montecito Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The bodies of Gabriela Calzada, 19, and Briana Gallegos, 17, were found Oct. 28 at about 2:20pm by a woman walking her dog on a trail near Mercury and Boundary avenues in the Rose Hills section of Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.

Friends and family in social media identified Gallegos as a resident of Pico Rivera and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park.

Their deaths have been classified as homicides.

“Nobody has been arrested and I don’t have ages [of detainees] right now,” Baeza told EGP, responding to speculation by some media reports that one of the males detained appeared to be 17 or 18 years old.

Two people were taken to Hollenbeck Station in Boyle Heights for questioning and more people are expected to be questioned throughout the day, Baeza added.

Evidence being sought in the search warrants could include “DNA swabbing,” Lt. Sam Arase told KTLA-Channel 5.

John Baez lives two blocks from the residences searched and told media reporters that neighbors in the area are very worried because the killings happened very close to home. The area is known for gangs and they are afraid to speak, he said.

“I had seen the young girls before, hanging out around the neighborhood with a group of guys,” he said. “But I didn’t know who they were.”

Authorities said the victims were fully dressed when found at the park and there was evidence of blunt-force trauma, but would not confirm if that was the cause of death.

Baeza wouldn’t speculate on whether the murders happened in the park or elsewhere. “The bodies were about 300 to 400 yards off the street on the trail,” he said last week during a community meeting hosted by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. The captain said it would have been unusual for them to have been dumped out of a vehicle, but nothing is being ruled out.

Hollenbeck Lt. Sam Arase told EGP no one was arrested, only detained and questioned.

“They are just residents, we are talking to them see if they have any additional information that can help us in our investigation,” he said. “I don’t want to get too much in detail but our forensic staff are here collecting evidence at this point.”

Arase would not confirm speculation on social media that the murders could be gang-related.

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

La Muerte de Dos Mujeres Incrementa Miedo y Rumores

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El portavoz del forense dijo el miércoles que no podía comentar sobre un informe que una de dos mujeres jóvenes encontradas muertas en un parque de Montecito Heights había recibido un disparo en la cabeza.

Ed Winter, asistente del forense dijo solamente que había preocupaciones sobre la seguridad puesta en los dos casos, y se negó a dar detalles.

Read this article in English: Girls Killings Fuel Fear, and Rumors

NBC4 citó la oficina del forense como la fuente de información de que Gabriela Calzada de 19 años de edad había recibido un disparo.

Los amigos y la familia han identificado la segunda víctima en los medios sociales como Briana Gallegos de 17 años de edad, residente de Pico Rivera y estudiante de Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies en Glassell Park. Los cuerpos fueron encontrados alrededor de las 2:20pm el 28 de octubre por una mujer que paseaba a su perro en un camino cerca de las avenidas Mercury y Boundary en la sección Rose Hills del Parque Regional Ernest E. Debs.

Sus muertes han sido clasificadas como homicidios.

La noche del martes, decenas de residentes preocupados asistieron a una reunión en Ramona Hall, donde la policía de Los Ángeles les informó dónde se encuentran en la investigación.

“Estamos hablando con la gente, sobre las preocupaciones y rumores”, Martín Baeza, capitán de la División Hollenbeck de LAPD le dijo a la multitud.

Según la policía, las víctimas estaban completamente vestidas y había evidencia de lesiones por contusión, pero no confirmó si esa fue la causa de la muerte.

Baeza confirmó que las autopsias se habían realizado, pero no dio detalles sobre los resultados, se limitó a decir que la “investigación oficial está siendo manejada por mis detectives”.

Gabriela Calzada, 19, fue encontrada muerta en el parque Ernest E, Debs en Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Gabriela Calzada, 19, fue encontrada muerta en el parque Ernest E, Debs en Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Baeza no quiso especular sobre si los asesinatos ocurrieron en el parque o en otro lugar. “Los cuerpos estaban alrededor de 300 a 400 yardas de la calle en el camino”, dijo, y añadió que habría sido inusual que las hayan aventado de un vehículo, pero dijo que nada está siendo descartado.

Algunas personas que viven cerca del parque han reportado ver a un hombre sospechoso rondar. Existen rumores que los homicidios pudieron estar relacionados a los homicidios no resueltos de dos mujeres en Lincoln Heights hace unos años, o a tres ataques separados a mujeres que caminaban solas en el parque el año pasado.

La residente de Montecito Heights Andrea Mageed le dijo a EGP que ella solía ir a caminar en el parque, pero últimamente tiene miedo ir después de ver algunas veces “a un hombre sospechoso” con una mochila  viendo a mujeres.

“Uno ya no puede venir aquí sola”, dijo.

Silvia (cuyo apellido no se proporcionó) y su marido le dijeron a EGP que caminan por el parque todos los días alrededor de las 4pm.

Ella dijo que el mismo día que se encontraron los cuerpos, pero en la mañana, ella escuchó gritos de una mujer, y aunque algunos de sus vecinos dicen que podrían ser las mujeres asesinadas, la pareja cree que era una vecina que sufre violencia doméstica.

“Asumo que las trajeron ya muertas”, especuló el esposo de Silvia.

“Nunca habíamos visto nada como esto antes”, dijo el residente de Rose Hill Courts.

La noche del martes, Baeza le dijo a la audiencia que esta tragedia ha conmocionado a toda una comunidad y que están siguiendo cualquier pistas, rumores y no se descarta ninguna posible causa de muerte.

“La gente nos está dando una gran cantidad de información, y lo que hacemos es dividirlo por prioridad”, en un libro de evidencias, dijo. “Esto es algo que quiero ver llegar a su final”.

La funcionaria de campo del área noreste con el concejal del Primer Distrito Gil Cedillo, Sylvia Robledo le dijo a la audiencia, que la oficina de Cedillo ha estado trabajando muy de cerca con los oficiales de policía de Los Ángeles y ha recibido muchas llamadas telefónicas, algunos de ellos con información y algunos con los rumores y se lo están haciendo saber a las autoridades.

Un altar yace en el lugar donde fueron encontrados los cuerpos. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Un altar yace en el lugar donde fueron encontrados los cuerpos. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La miembro de la Junta Vecinal de Lincoln Heights Nancy Rosas dijo a los panelistas que está preocupada por las chicas jóvenes que caminan en la calle y tiene miedo que este podría ser un asesino en serie. “Necesitamos más oficiales de patrulla por nuestra seguridad”, dijo.

“En este momento no sabemos si se trata de un asesino en serie y no tenemos ninguna información para apoyar esta afirmación”, respondió Baeza.

Después explicó a la audiencia que en abril del 2014 fue encontrada una mujer muerta a lo largo del río en Arroyo Seco, pero fue un homicidio resuelto y se encontró al sospechoso quien actualmente esta en la cárcel.

Otro caso fue el de julio de 2014, cuando un hombre expuso sus partes a una mujer. “Hemos puesto una alerta en ese momento y tenemos un boceto del hombre”, dijo Baeza.

El sospechoso, sin embargo, no ha sido capturado todavía.

La residente del Este de Los Ángeles Carla Legaspi le dijo a EGP que ella se siente insegura, no sólo por el caso del parque, pero por que la situación se está convirtiendo en una “epidemia” de violencia contra las mujeres “y todavía no hay resultados positivos”.

Se refirió al caso del 29 de septiembre en Boyle Heights, donde un hombre trató de asaltar sexualmente a una mujer cerca de la estación de metro en las calles Primera y Pecan. El sospechoso sigue en libertad.

“[LAPD] tiene que enviar correos electrónicos masivos, publicar la foto de los sospechosos en todas partes”, dijo.

Baeza dijo que el parque cuenta con patrullas adicionales todo el día incluyendo oficiales en bicicleta hasta las 8pm.

Hoy a las 5pm habrá una vigilia y procesión en honor a las dos mujeres organizada por Eastside Mujeres, una red de organizaciones que prestan apoyo a mujeres, en el lugar donde fueron encontradas las dos mujeres. Exigirán la justicia y paz en la comunidad “para detener los feminicidios y homicidios de mujeres”, Carla Osorio del  Centro de Mujeres de ELA y parte de la red le dijo a EGP.

Osorio dijo que están proporcionando consejos de seguridad a las mujeres, tales como “no caminar sola y tomar algunas clases de defensa personal”.

Otra “Marcha por la Paz” se llevará a cabo en Lincoln Heights el sábado a las 10am en las esquinas de Griffin y North Broadway.

Así mismo se están llevando a cabo esfuerzos para ayudar a cubrir los costos del funeral.

Un lavado de autos se llevará a cabo el sábado de 9:30am a 4:30pm para colectar donaciones para el funeral de Bianca Gallegos en 5337 Monte Vista Street Los Ángeles 90042.

Ambas mujeres tienen una página gofundme.com para recaudar más fondos.

Cualquier persona con información sobre el caso puede llamar a los detectives de la división Hollenbeck al (323) 342-8900 o el Oficial Principal Superior de Montecito Heights Austin Fernald al (213) 924-5538.

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Girls’ Killings Fuel Fear and Rumors

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A coroner’s spokesman said Wednesday he could not comment on a report that one of two young women found dead in a Montecito Heights park had been shot in the head.

Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said only that there were concerns about security holds that had been placed on the two cases, and he declined to elaborate.

Lea este artículo en Español: La Muerte de Dos Mujeres Incrementa Miedo y Rumores

NBC4 cited the coroner’s office as the source of information that 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada had been shot.

Friends and family in social media posts have identified the second victim as seventeen-year-old Briana Gallegos, a resident of Pico Rivera and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park. The bodies were found about 2:20 p.m. Oct. 28 by a woman walking her dog on a trail near Mercury and Boundary avenues in the Rose Hills section of Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.

Briana Gallegos, 17, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Family and friends identified Briana Gallegos, 17, found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Their deaths have been classified as homicides.

On Tuesday night, dozens of scared residents attended a meeting at Ramona Hall where Los Angeles police addressed where they are in the investigation.

“We are talking to people, addressing concerns and rumors going on,” LAPD Hollenbeck Division Capt. Martin Baeza told the crowd.

According to police, the victims were fully dressed when found and there was evidence of blunt-force trauma, but would not confirm if that was the cause of death.

Baeza confirmed that autopsies had been performed but would not elaborate on the results, saying only that the “official investigation is being handled by my detectives.”

Baeza wouldn’t speculate on whether the murders happened in the park or elsewhere. “The bodies were about 300 to 400 yards off the street on the trail,” he said, adding it would have been unusual for them to have been dumped out of a vehicle, but added nothing is being ruled out.

Several people living near the park have reported seeing a suspicious man hanging around the park. Rumors that the killings could be related to the unsolved killings of two women in Lincoln Heights a few years ago, or three separate attacks on women walking alone in the park last year has many residents on edge.

Montecito Heights resident Andrea Mageed told EGP she used to hike in the park, but has become afraid to go there by herself after seeing “a suspicious man” wearing a backpack several times staring at the women in the park.

“You can’t come here anymore by yourself,” she said.

Rose Hill resident Silvia and her husband, who did not want to give his name, live very close to the park and said they heard a woman screaming on the morning of the day the bodies were found. Neighbors said it might have been one of the victims, but the couple says it could have been a neighbor victim of domestic abuse.

“I’m assuming they brought them dead already,” speculated Silvia’s husband.

Gabriela Calzada, 19, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Gabriela Calzada, 19, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

“We have never seen anything like this before,” Silvia said.

This tragedy has shocked the entire community, Baeza said Tuesday. He said police are following every lead and rumor, and are not ruling any possible motive.

“People are giving us a lot of information, and what we do is prioritize it” in a clue book, he said, adding he’s determined to see the case solved.

Councilman Gil Cedillo’s field deputy in the area, Sylvia Robledo, told the crowd at Ramona Hall that her boss is working closely with the LAPD on the case. She said councilman’s office has received calls from people wanting to provide information, some of it rumors, and they are forwarding the information to police.

Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council member Nancy Rosas is worried there might be a serial killer on the loose. She said Tuesday she is very concerned for the safety of young girls who might be out walking and called on police to step up patrols in the area. “We need more patrol officers for our safety,” she emphasized.

“At this time we don’t know if this is a serial killer and don’t have any information to support that statement,” responded Baeza. Rumors that the killings could be tied to the April 2014 killing of a woman found in the Arroyo Seco are untrue. That killing has been solved and the suspect is in jail, the captain said.

Baeza was not as definite about speculation that the girl’s deaths might be the work of a man still wanted in connection with the assault of three women in the park between January and July 2014. At the time, police said the suspect was targeting women walking alone. Police released a composite drawing of the suspect, and warned women to not walk in the park alone.

 Flowers were placed along a trail at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park where the bodies of two teenage girls were found last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Flowers were placed along a trail at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park where the bodies of two teenage girls were found last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

East Los Angeles resident Carla Legaspi told EGP she feels unsafe these days because violence against women is becoming an “epidemic,” and no arrest has been made in the Sept. 29 attempted sexual assault of a woman in Boyle Heights, near the Metro station at First and Pecan streets.

“[LAPD] needs to send mass emails, publish the photo of the suspects everywhere,” she said.

According to Baeza, extra patrols, including bicycle units have been added at the park.

A vigil for the for the two teenagers will be held today at 5 p.m., organized by Eastside Mujeres—a network of organizations providing support to women. The group will demand justice and peace in the community  and “to stop the femicides and killings of women,” Carla Osorio, a member of East LA Women Center and part of the network told EGP.

She said the group will provide safety tips, such as never walking alone and taking self-defense classes.

Another “March for Peace” will take place Saturday in Lincoln Heights at 10am at the corner of Griffin and North Broadway.

Efforts are underway to help the girls’ families raise money to cover funeral costs.

A fundraiser carwash will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 5337 Monte Vista Street, Los Angeles 90042, to collect donations for Briana Gallegos.

A gofundme.com page has been set up for each of the girls.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Hollenbeck division detectives at (323) 342-8900 or the Senior Lead Officer for Montecito Heights, Austin Fernald at (213) 924-5538. Information from City news Service used in this report.

 —-Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

UPDATE: Two Women Found Dead in Debs Park

October 29, 2015 by · 3 Comments 

A 17-year old girl found dead in a park in Montecito Heights was identified Friday by friends as family as Briana Gallegos of Pico Rivera.

The coroner’s office previously identified a second victim as 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada.

The women’s deaths have been classified as homicides, Officer Aareon Jefferson of the Los Angeles Police Departments Media Relations Section said.

The bodies were found about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday near Mercury and Boundary avenues along a walking path through Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, according to the LAPD.

 

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is a popular location for hikers and runners. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Motecito Heights is home to several miles of hiking and cycling trails. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A woman walking her dog came upon the bodies, which were on the side of a hill, and called police, LAPD Officer Matthew Ludwig said Wednesday.

According to police, the women were found fully clothed about 300 yards from the street, and did not appear to have been sexually assaulted. He declined to comment on whether police found obvious signs of trauma on the bodies.

The coroner’s office has not officially identified Gallegos as one of the victims but friends have identified the teen and written on her Facebook page. According to the page, Gallegos was a student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassel Park.

One of the young women was reported missing at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, nearly seven hours after their bodies were found.

The park is popular with hikers and walkers. It’s also home to a National Audubon Center.

Flowers were placed at the site where the bodies of two woman were found at Debs Park. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Flowers were placed at the site where the bodies of two woman were found at Debs Park. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“I’m really scared knowing a killer may be out there,” said Helen, who asked not to use her last name.

“I never walk in the park alone anymore, not since those women were attacked last year, ” she told EGP.

She was referring to the assault on three women between January and July 2014.  At the time, police said the suspect was targeting women walking alone in the park. Signs with a composite drawing of the suspect warning women to to not walk alone and to keep an eye out for the suspect were posted around the park.

Autopsies to determine the victims’ causes of death were pending, according to the coroner’s office.

Article includes information from City News Service.

Update: 6:39 p.m.

Updated Oct. 30 2:45 p.m.

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