LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors have charged four people in connection with the robbery and killing of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and allege the suspects are tied to a street gang, authorities said Thursday.
Officer Fernando Arroyos, 27, was fatally shot at about 9:15 p.m. Monday in an unincorporated area of south Los Angeles County. The suspects allegedly targeted him because of two silver chains or necklaces around his neck, authorities said.
Authorities have said Arroyos was shopping for a house with his girlfriend when a pickup truck approached. Several suspects got out, there was an argument and gunfire was exchanged between the assailants and the officer. Arroyos was shot once; his girlfriend was not hurt.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced the charges on Thursday. The sheriff’s department was investigating the case, and took the suspects into custody on Wednesday, because the crime occurred in an unincorporated area of the county.
The defendants are charged with violent crime in aid of racketeering; they are allegedly connected to the Florencia 13 (F13) gang. The crimes were allegedly committed in furtherance of the gang, authorities said.
The violence occurred in the gang’s territory, authorities said.
The suspects are alleged gang members Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29, known as “Lil J”; Ernesto Cisneros, 22, known as “Gonzo” and Jesse Contreras, 34, known as “Skinny Jack” and “Flaco.” Rios’ girlfriend, 18-year-old Haylee Marie Grisham, is considered an associate of the gang.
Another LAPD officer identified Contreras in surveillance footage because the officer had encountered him and Rios in the truck on Sunday during a traffic stop, authorities said.
The suspects are expected to make their first appearances in federal court on Friday afternoon. It was not immediately clear Thursday night whether they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Florencia 13 is a Latino street gang founded in the early 1950s and based in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of South LA, according to a federal affidavit. The violent group controls drug trafficking in the area and is allegedly overseen by the Mexican Mafia.
Rios, Cisneros and Contreras allegedly admitted, in their interviews with law enforcement, that they are members of the gang and have tattoos related to it, the affidavit states. Authorities also placed people working with law enforcement in jail cells with the suspects to glean more information.
Rios, however, allegedly told investigators that the foursome had been looking to “make money” that night — to rob people of property or cash, according to the affidavit.