Things That Matter

An LA Shooting Claimed The Lives Of Two Men, A Latino Ph.D Scholar Who Dreamed Of Working For NASA And A Father-To-Be

In cities across the US, people continue to die due to senseless gun violence. Los Angeles is no stranger to shootouts and, unfortunately, three more people fell victim to gun fire on Wednesday – leaving two of them dead and their friends and family in mourning. 

The shooting spree took place in South Los Angeles and one of the victims has been identified as a talented scholar full of big dreams. 

Gun violence has struck again in Los Angeles, killing two and injuring a third.

Two men were killed and another injured  in a drive-by shooting into a vehicle in South LA.

When police arrived at the scene, they found two men with multiple gunshot wounds. One of the men was pronounced dead at the scene. The second was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. A third man, suffering from a single gunshot wound, was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Investigators said the two deceased victims were standing outside of a parked car when the suspect’s vehicle drove up and a passenger opened fire, striking both men. The suspect shot the third victim a short distance away as the suspects fled the scene. 

Police are still investigating the motive for the shooting.

One of the victims was Jose Flores Velazquez who was working towards his doctorate at UC Irvine.

Distraught family members who arrived at the scene told KTLA the man who died there was Jose Flores. He and the second man killed, Alfredo Carrera, grew up together six houses apart on the street where they were shot.

Carrera, meanwhile, was about to become a first-time father with his girlfriend, his aunt Michelle Garcia said.

The baby shower was set for Saturday, Garcia added.

Family said Carrera had been shot at least once in his back.

Investigators have yet to release information on the suspects and declined to release a description of the vehicle involved. The relatives say they have no idea who would want to target the men.

Police say the men were victims of a drive by shooting.

A 911 caller told officials a vehicle drove up and the passenger pulled out a handgun. An argument ensued, then shots rang out, said Lt. Derrick Alfred.

It appears that they had driven up and were saying goodbye outside the car to each other when the car drove up (and) some words were exchanged,” Rubenstein said. “Somebody from inside the suspect vehicle fired multiple rounds, striking both the men.”

Velazquez was a nationally recognized scholar who eventually wanted to work for NASA.

Flores was a physics doctoral student at UC Irvine and had his sights set on a job at NASA, a family member told KTLA.

“He was one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met,” said a former sister-in-law at the scene who asked not to be named.

Many took to social media to share their shock and died about the loss of such an accomplished young man who was full of dreams.

While fellow grad students shared in their disbelief.

People who knew Velazquez have been sharing memories and talking about what a kind and caring person he was. They also talk about his many talents, skills, and dreams – of which, he had many.

If you’d like to support Velazquez’ family during this time, they have a GoFundMe page setup here

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New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Entertainment

New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Bettmann / Getty Images

Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. The Night Stalker, spent the summer of 1985 terrorizing Los Angeles. Ramirez murdered 13 people during his reign of terror in Southern California. Netflix’s new docuseries is exploring the crime by interviewing law enforcement and family of the victims.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial” killer is now streaming on Netflix.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is the latest Netflix docuseries diving into the true crimes that have shaped American society. Richard Ramirez is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and single-handedly terrorized Los Angeles during the summer of 1985.

Ramirez fundamentally changed Los Angeles and the people who live there. The serial killer was an opportunistic killer. He would break into homes using unlocked doors and opened windows. Once inside, he would rape, murder, rob, and assault the people inside the home.

The documentary series explores just how Ramirez was able to keep law enforcement at bay for so long. The killer did not have a standard modus operandi. His victims ran the gamut of gender, age, and race. There was no indicator as to who could be next. He also rarely used the same weapon when killing his victims. Some people were stabbed to death while others were strangled and others still were bludgeoned.

While not the first telling of Ramirez’s story, it is the most terrifying account to date.

“Victims ranged in age from 6 to 82,” director Tiller Russell told PEOPLE. “Men, women, and children. The murder weapons were wildly different. There were guns, knives, hammers, and tire irons. There was this sort of feeling that whoever you were, that anybody could be a victim and anybody could be next.”

Family members of the various victims speak in the documentary series about learning of the horror committed to them. People remember grandparents and neighbors killed by Ramirez. All the while, police followed every lead to make sure they left no stone unturned.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is now streaming on Netflix.

READ: Here’s How An East LA Neighborhood Brought Down One Of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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