LOS ANGELES — Three men and a woman suspected of participating in the robbery and murder of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer have been charged with federal racketeering, prosecutors said Thursday.
The four are charged with a violent crime for extortion in the murder of officer Fernando Arroyos, who was fatally shot Monday, the US Attorney General’s Office for Central California said.
Three would be members of the Florencia 13 gang, the US law firm said. The fourth is a friend, it said.
The federal prosecution, which is unusual in a local murder case, could trigger death sentences and minimal life sentences with no chance of parole, because Arroyos was allegedly murdered while committing a robbery.
Indicted in federal court are: Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29; Ernesto Cisneros, 22; Jesse Contreras, 34; and Haylee Marie Grisham, 18, who is Rios’ girlfriend, the US law firm said.
All four were in a vehicle involved in the crime and were present during the robbery and murder, the US law firm said.
Rios and Cisneros are charged with confronting Arroyos, identified in court documents as “FA”, and his girlfriend on East 87th Street Monday night in order to rob them.
“At some point after Cisneros removed victim FA’s chains, victim FA and the two suspects exchanged shots,” a federal court said. Victim FA ran into an alley where he collapsed and the two suspects fled.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department found Cisneros, who had been shot, about 2 miles away, officials said.
Video shows him being helped out of the black truck used in the crime following the shooting, according to an affidavit from the FBI filed in the case.
Rios and Cisneros are said to have told investigators after their arrest that they were driving around looking for people to rob, and they decided to rob Arroyos because they liked his necklaces, according to the FBI affidavit.
The 16-page statement also says that detectives obtained security videos showing some of the confrontation.
It was not immediately clear on Thursday evening whether any of the four accused had lawyers.
The suspects were expected to be transferred to federal custody on Friday, the federal prosecutor’s office said.
The Angels Police Chief Michel Moore called the killing an act of “cruel and senseless violence.” He said Arroyos was a hero and that he was grateful that the case was being pursued federally.
“It’s appropriate,” Moore said at a news conference Thursday night. “I am grateful to the US attorney for stepping in and bringing the full weight of the government against this gang.”
Moore said the gang has plagued parts of the Los Angeles area for decades, and federal racketeering laws are designed to fight organized gangs. Police officers in the department where the gang operates have made 18 arrests of gang members with guns in the past year, he said.
The US law firm described Florencia 13, also known as F13, as a “large, multi-generational street gang” that has been the subject of two major racketeering cases.
Officials are still looking for Arroyos’ bifold black wallet and two silver necklaces. One of the necklaces has a sword pendant. Court documents say the wallet was thrown from the truck window after the shooting.
“Those two necklaces and a wallet mean, I’m sure, the world for the family,” Moore said.