Primary Suspect Arrested in Gateway Hate Crime
Los Angeles: After 20 days of nearly non-stop investigation, including 10 search warrants, Los Angeles police announced the arrest of Jonathan Fajardo, 18, for the murder of 14-year-old Cheryl Greene.
"Over the course of the last two weeks, we committed every resource to solving this crime," said Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, head of the LAPD's Operations-South Bureau. "I hope the community will feel safer now with two persons charged in the shooting, and 7 other gang associates under arrest."
Fajardo's accomplice, Ernesto Alcarez, 20, was arrested December 21, and has already been charged with the murder with an added penalty enhancement for the hate crime.
Gang investigators from the Harbor Police Station arrested Fajardo yesterday at a home in Carson, where they also found a gun, which will be tested to determine whether it is the murder weapon used in the December 15 shooting on Harvard Boulevard.
Fajardo and Alcarez also face a half-dozen other counts of attempted murder and gang enhancements.
Cheryl Greene's murder and a rash of gang-related crimes in the Canoga Park area have raised concerns over the number of gang crimes that are motivated by hate.
The number of homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies that are hate crimes and also attributed to gangs amounted to 5 incidents in 2006. There were 3 such incidents in 2005, and 2 in 2004.
Chief William Bratton and Mayor Villaraigosa have vowed that gang enforcement will be a high priority for 2007. Gang homicides accounted for 56 percent of all murders in 2006, and over 80 percent of the murders in Los Angeles are committed with a firearm.
"It should be no surprise to anyone that gang members have racist tendencies," said Police Chief William J. Bratton. "Both street and prison gangs are constituted on race. But the reality is, most gang crime is motivated by greed and territory. Nevertheless, it is right that penalties are enhanced for hate crimes. All Angelenos should be able to walk down the street without the fear of being attacked because of their race, creed, religion, or sexual orientation."