SANTA MONICA, CA — A man arrested on suspicion of beating a man unconscious in Santa Monica Monday morning is the same man who killed two sleeping homeless men in Los Angeles last week and another man sleeping beneath the Santa Monica Pier, police believe. Additionally police in Texas want to question him in connection with the disappearance of two relatives.
The suspected serial killer, Ramon Escobar, 47, is a person of interest in the disappearance of Rogelio Escobar and Dina Escobar, Lt. Humberto Lopez of the Houston Police Department told the Los Angeles Times.
Both went missing late last month and foul play is suspected in their disappearances, Lopez told The Times.
Escobar was arrested Monday in Santa Monica where police set up a perimeter after finding a man suffering a traumatic injury. Shortly before 7 a.m., Santa Monica officers went to the 1500 block of Seventh Street on a report of a male victim with head injuries, ” Santa Monica Police Department Lt. Saul Rodriguez said. It was the fifth attack on an unsuspecting person in the region within a week, creating alarm within the homeless community, and police responded aggressively to find the suspect.
“Upon arrival, officers located a male adult victim unconscious and suffering from injuries to the head consistent with blunt force trauma,” and paramedics took the man to a hospital, the lieutenant said. A condition report was unavailable as of Monday afternoon.
“As officers searched the area, a possible male suspect was located in the 600 block of Broadway Avenue,” Rodriguez said. “Following a preliminary investigation by SMPD detectives, the suspect has been placed under arrest for … assault.”
The arrested followed a string of violent attacks that put the community on edge.
About 6:30 a.m. last Thursday, 39-year-old Steven Cruze Jr. of San Gabriel was found fatally beaten beneath the Santa Monica Pier. Although initially described by authorities as homeless, Cruze’s family said that was not the case.
“He wasn’t homeless,” his father, Steven Cruze Sr., told NBC4 at a Friday evening vigil. “He just slept over here (under the pier) and went to work from here sometimes. He had a membership with a gym so could get up in the morning, go take a shower and go to work. He knows so many people on this pier, he felt safe.”
Cruze’s murder followed the deaths of two homeless men who were beaten and robbed in downtown Los Angeles early on the morning of Sept. 16. Their names have not been released. A third victim, also a homeless man, was hospitalized in critical condition with severe head trauma.
The trio of downtown Los Angeles attacks occurred between 4 and 5 a.m. Sept. 16, and the LAPD later released surveillance video of a man suspected in those attacks, which investigators said were carried out with a baseball bat.
The first attack was at the northwest corner of Fifth and Flower streets, while the second and third happened on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, just east of Flower Street, LAPD Capt. William Hayes said.
All three victims were attacked while they slept, and the suspect went through their belongings before leaving the scene, Hayes said.
The suspect was described as white or Hispanic with dark bushy hair and wearing a blue hat, gray sweatshirt, black shorts and bright white tennis shoes. Police noted that the suspect, who might also be homeless, appeared slightly bow-legged and walked with a distinctive gait.
Anyone with information on the Los Angeles attacks was urged to call LAPD Robbery-Homicide detectives at (213) 486-6890. To report information about the Santa Monica crime, people can call (310) 458-8943, or (310) 458-8491.
City News Service and Patch staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of the LAPD
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