LOS ANGELES — Three men and a woman suspected of participating in the robbery and murder of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer have been charged with federal racketeering charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
The four men are charged with racketeering violent crimes in the murder of officer Fernando Arroyos, who was fatally shot on Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central California said.
Three of them are believed to be members of the Florencia 13 gang, the US attorney’s office said. The fourth is a girlfriend, he says.
Federal prosecutors, unusual in a local murder case, could face death sentences and minimum life sentences without the possibility of parole because Arroyos was allegedly killed in the commission of a robbery.
Charged in federal court are: Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29; Ernesto Cisneros, 22; Jesse Contreras, 34; and Haylee Marie Grisham, 18, who is Rios’ girlfriend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
All four were in a vehicle involved in the crime and present during the robbery and murder, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Rios and Cisneros are accused of confronting Arroyos, identified in court documents as “FA,” and his girlfriend on East 87th Street Monday night to rob them.
“At some point after Cisneros removed the shackles from the FA victim, the FA victim and the two suspects exchanged gunfire,” according to a federal court filing. “Victim FA ran into an alley where he collapsed and the two suspects fled.”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies found Cisneros, who had been shot, about 2 miles away, officials said.
Video shows him being helped out of the black truck used in the crime after the shooting, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.
Rios and Cisneros allegedly told investigators after their arrest that they were driving around looking for people to rob, and they decided to rob Arroyos because they liked his chains, according to the FBI affidavit.
The 16-page affidavit also says detectives obtained security video that shows part of the confrontation.
It was not immediately clear Thursday night whether any of the four defendants had attorneys.
The suspects were to be transferred Friday to a federal facility, the federal prosecutor’s office said.
Angels Police Department Chief Michel Moore called the killing an act of “vicious and senseless violence”. He said Arroyos was a hero and was grateful the case was being prosecuted federally.
“It’s appropriate,” Moore said at a Thursday night news conference. “I am grateful to the US attorney for stepping in and bringing the full weight of the federal government against this gang.”
Moore said the gang has plagued parts of the Los Angeles area for decades. Police in the division where the gang operates made 18 arrests of armed gang members last year, he said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has described Florencia 13, also known as F13, as a “large, multi-generational street gang” that has been the subject of two major racketeering prosecutions.
Officials are still looking for the black bifold wallet and two silver chains from Arroyos. One of the chains has a sword pendant. Court documents say the wallet was thrown out the window of the truck after the shooting.
“Those two chains and a wallet I’m sure mean the world to families,” Moore said.