The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to renew two unrelated rewards Wednesday — both involving double homicides — in hopes of finding the killers of a young man who volunteered as an Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station and his friend, as well as whoever shot two other young fathers to death at a Compton gas station.
Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended extending a $25,000 reward in the 2011 killing of 19-year-old aspiring deputy Cesar Rodriguez and 24-year-old Larry Villegas in an unincorporated area near Whittier. Set to expire Nov. 11, the reward will now be available for at least another 90 days.
“It has been seven long years and we still do not know who did this,” Hahn said at an August news conference at the downtown Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. “Cesar and Larry’s families deserve answers and there are people out there who have them. If you know anything about this horrific crime, I urge you to come forward.”
Rodriguez, of Whittier, was fatally shot as he stood with Villegas in front of a house in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 28, 2011. The driver of a gray Scion sedan with two or three passengers pulled up in front of the men, pulled out a handgun and fired several shots, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported soon after the killings.
Investigators believe the victims, neither of whom were affiliated with gangs, might have been mistaken for local gang members who had been at the scene earlier in the night.
Rodriguez’ mother used the news conference to speak directly to the gunman.
“Cesar was going through the right path, so was Larry,” Lupe Rodriguez said. “To the person who did it, I don’t know how you can live, knowing us and we don’t know you.”
Rodriguez had volunteered as an Explorer for four years and become the leader of his local post’s honor guard, working at DUI checkpoints and National Night Out events. Hahn said he was a favorite at the Norwalk station and had applied to be a full-fledged deputy.
Villegas, a graduate of California High School and the Universal Technical Institute, had a job he loved at Caterpillar, according to Hahn. The company had just paid for him to go back to school and get his associate’s degree. He was raising a 10-month-old son and his girlfriend was pregnant with their second child, a daughter.
Anyone with more information was urged to call sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Rodriguez at (323) 574-1363.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended renewing a $10,000 reward in the Compton shooting, which was also set to expire Nov. 11.
At about 9 p.m. on May 15, 2016, 24-year-old Richard Williams was driving out of a 76 gas station in the 1200 block of South Wilmington Avenue with two friends — 23-year-old Boston Farley and 26-year-old Brandon Upchurch – – when someone fired into their vehicle.
Williams was struck by multiple rounds and died at the scene. Farley died at St. Francis Medical Center.
Upchurch, who escaped injury, told investigators that as Williams drove from the parking lot, an “armed male assailant was waiting on the sidewalk and began shooting into the vehicle,” according to the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “The suspect then got into a waiting white utility truck, which fled northbound on Wilmington Avenue and out of view.”
Sheriff’s officials said the victims, both residents of Compton, were not gang members, but their assailants could be. The suspects’ truck was described as a white Chevrolet or GMC utility service truck with ladder racks and built-in side tool boxes.
Both victims were fathers of year-old sons and Williams, who worked as a communications company installer, was engaged to be married.
Ridley-Thomas urged anyone with information on either of the shootings to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).
For more crime-related news, a man and a woman were charged in East Hollywood gas station robbery.