Three men and one women allegedly connected to the Florencia 13 (F13) street gang have been charged in the killing of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who was out shopping for a home with his girlfriend when he was shot on Monday night.
Federal authorities with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California on Thursday announced that three F13 members — Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29, Ernesto Cisneros, 22 and Jesse Contreras, 34, as well as Rios's girlfriend, Haylee Marie Grisham, 18 — were all charged with a count of violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR).
Authorities said the F13 members robbed Los Angeles Police Department officer Fernando Arroyos and his girlfriend for chains around his neck and other items before shooting and killing him as part of an effort to "increase and maintain position within F13."
The defendants were taken into custody on Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and are expected to be transferred into federal custody on Friday before an initial appearance in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The VICAR charge carries the possibility of a death sentence and a minimum sentence of life in federal prison without the possibility of parole, according to federal authorities.
A vigil was held for the slain officer on Tuesday, attended by family and fellow officers who lamented his death and the fact that he may have died over jewelry worth a couple hundred dollars, per CBS Los Angeles.
Luis Interiano, Arroyo's training officer, said he missed his partner.
“When you work side by side with someone and suddenly they’re not there, it hits close to home,” he said, according to the news outlet.
Arroyos was shopping for a home in an area of south Los Angeles with his girlfriend on Monday night when a black pickup truck pulled up, according to authorities.
Rios and Cisneros then allegedly confronted Arroyos with guns and removed the chains from his neck. An argument ensued and Arroyos and his assailants exchanged gunfire, authorities said.
According to The Associated Press, which reviewed an affidavit on the case, the gang stole a black walking stick from Arroyos's girlfriend, two silver chains and $100 from Arroyos's wallet before fleeing the scene.
Deputies responded and transported Arroyos to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the AP.
Authorities say investigators obtained surveillance video from a nearby residence the truck arrived at soon after the crime. The video allegedly showed Contreras helping an injured Cisneros out of the vehicle.
After they were detained by authorities, Rios, Cisneros and Contreras allegedly admitted that they were members of F13, a primarily Latino gang in south Los Angeles, the AP reported.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are investigating the case, while lawyers with the U.S. Attorney's Office are prosecuting the case.