Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Amanda Ball
Observer Staff Writer 

Murder Suspect: Suspected Serial Killer Caught in Santa Monica Was 6-Time Deportee

In LA, One victim is on life support. Two victims, Brandon Ridout, 24, and Kelvin Williams, 59, died. ​

 

October 1, 2018

Murder Suspect Ramon Escobar had been deported six times

On Monday morning, following a 6:51 am radio call regarding a male victim suffering head trauma on 7th and Colorado, Santa Monica Police detained a suspect in the 600 block of Broadway Avenue. Although the police initially cautioned they had not made a link between this attack and the series of attacks against mostly homeless individuals in Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles, eventually they did conclude they were all connected.

​Suspect Ramon Escobar, 47, was charged Wednesday for the attempted murder on Monday and for six other attacks taking place in Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. All the assaults were made on sleeping victims, most of them homeless. In addition, Escobar has become a person of interest in the disappearance of his aunt and uncle in Houston.

​On Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila of the Major Crimes Division charged Escobar with three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, and four counts of second-degree robbery (robbery not committed inside a home, paid transit vehicle, or at an ATM). The allegations of multiple murders and murders during a robbery open Escobar to the possibility of a death sentence. He could also get life in prison without parole.

​The attacks with which Escobar is charged are:

​September 8: assault of a person sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica. Victim hospitalized and released.

​September 10: assault of a man sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica, in the same general area. Victim is currently in a coma.

​September 16: assault by baseball bat to the head of three homeless people in downtown Los Angeles. One victim is on life support. Two victims, Brandon Ridout, 24, and Kelvin Williams, 59, died.

​September 20: assault on a Steven Cruze Jr, 39, who was sleeping under the Santa Monica Pier rather than drive home to San Gabriel. Cruze was killed.

​September 24: assault on a man near downtown Santa Monica. Victim is in a coma.

​Suspect Escobar, a native of El Salvador, has had run-ins with the law since 1988 and his first ordered deportation. He has had six felony convictions for burglary and illegal reentry. In Texas, he's had arrests for vehicle burglary, trespassing, failure to stop, public intoxication, and two assaults. In 1995, Escobar was sentenced in Harris County, Texas, to five years for auto burglary.

​After Escobar was paroled in 1997, he was deported, the first of six deportations. In June, 2016, Escobar filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The court said yes and ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release him from custody on an order of supervision in January, 2017.

​Escobar's response to the court's generosity was to get into more legal trouble. In November, 2017, he was convicted, again in Harris County, of misdemeanor assault.

​Escobar later showed up at his uncle, Rogelio Escobar's home, saying he was looking for work and needed a place to say.

According to Ligia Salamanca, Rogelio's niece, Ramon Escobar had a good relationship with Rogelio and with her mother, Rogelio's sister, Dina Escobar.

​However, Rogelio Escobar went missing on August 26. Dina Escobar went looking for him on August 28 and has not been seen since. Her burned-out van was found August 30 in Galveston, Texas.

​Ramon Escobar did not take part in the search efforts on behalf of his aunt and uncle, rousing the suspicions of Ligia, his cousin. He was questioned by the police, though he was not considered a suspect at the time, according to Houston Police spokesman, Kese Smith.

​Shortly after Ramon was questioned by police in Texas, he drove his 2004 black Honda CRV to Southern California. Arriving on September 5, Escobar was homeless himself.

​Los Angeles Police Department Captain Billy Hayes said during a news conference on Tuesday that the attacks did not appear to be based on hatred toward homeless people. "I think it was a crime of opportunity," Hayes said. He believes the motive was robbery.

​On Monday, Santa Monica police found a baseball bat in Escobar's car. They also found a pair of bolt cutters, which they believe he also used to smash in his victims' heads.

​It was a tactical mistake for the suspect to attack victims in Santa Monica. with 25 sworn police officers per square mile (as opposed to only 18 per square mile in Los Angeles), the SMPD can and does dedicate all of its many resources to the solving of violent crime.

 

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