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News Release

Sunday, February 4, 2001

Media Relations

Robbery/Murder Suspects Caught Fleeing Crime Scene

"Robbery/Murder Suspects Caught Fleeing Crime Scene"


Panorama City - On Saturday February 3, 2001, at approximately 11:40 p.m., Devonshire Area and Foothill Area patrol officers responded to a radio call of "Shots Fired" at a car wash located on the 14500 block of Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City. Preliminary information provided by a 911 emergency caller indicated a dark colored Suburban was seen fleeing the location. Upon arrival, officers discovered the lifeless body of Antonio Ramirez Cruz, a 48 year-old male Hispanic and resident of Panorama City. The victim appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the upper body and was pronounced dead by responding Los Angeles Fire Department personnel.

Simultaneously, officers assigned to the Foothill C.L.E.A.R. Unit (Community Law Enforcement And Recovery) were heading toward the radio call when they observed a blue GMC Suburban traveling on Van Nuys Boulevard away from the crime scene. The officers began to follow the vehicle and requested additional units in order to initiate a traffic stop of the possible suspect vehicle. The vehicle and occupants were detained on Foothill Boulevard at Van Nuys Boulevard. The occupants consisted of a male driver, identified as Armando Gomez (23 years-old), his girlfriend, Claudia Venegas (22 years-old), both of San Fernando, and a seventeen year-old male Hispanic juvenile of Cudahy. While clearing the vehicle for potential additional suspects, the officers recovered an assault rifle and additional evidence which directly linked the suspects to the shooting at the car wash.

The preliminary investigation by Devonshire Homicide Detectives revealed the victim was washing his car, when the three suspects arrived at the location in the Suburban. The two male suspects exited the car and robbed Mr. Cruz at gunpoint. After the robbery, Mr. Cruz was shot several times. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain under investigation.

During the robbery and shooting, suspect Claudia Venegas was shot in the leg by an errant round. She was transported by ambulance to a local hospital in serious condition.

All three suspects have been booked for murder and are being held without bail. Suspect Armando Gomez was booked at USCMC County Hospital Jail Ward. Suspect Claudia Venegas remains under police guard at a local hospital in serious/stable condition. The juvenile suspect remains in custody in Sylmar Juvenile Hall.

Devonshire Division Homicide Detectives are handling the investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have further information is urged to call Devonshire Homicide Detectives at 818-756-8291.

This Press Release was prepared by Public Information Officer Guillermo Campos, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.