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Suspect in String of Assaults That Left Three Dead May Be "Previously Deported Felon," Police Say


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September 25, 2018 -- The "violent predator" suspected of assaulting seven men in Santa Monica and Los Angeles this month may be a previously deported felon who was out to rob his sleeping victims, authorities said Tuesday afternoon.

Ramon Escobar -- a 47-year-old native of El Salvador -- was booked on suspicion of murdering three men, one under the Santa Monica Pier last week, and attempting to murder four others, three of them in Santa Monica, authorities said.
Ramon EscobarRamon Escobar (Courtesy LAPD)

Escobar allegedly assaulted his victims -- six of whom were homeless -- during a string of robberies that stretched from September 8 to September 24 in Santa Monica and Downtown LA, Los Angeles police said at an afternoon news conference.

"It does not appear to be directed at any specific group," said Los Angeles Police Department Captain William Hayes. "I think it was a crime of opportunity,"

Escobar, who is believed to be homeless, allegedly went though his victim's belongings after committing the assaults, Hayes said.

Escobar was arrested by Santa Monica police on Monday after assaulting a homeless man on the 1500 block of 7th Street, police said ("Suspect Arrested for Assault Monday in Santa Monica Could Be Responsible for String of Murders," September 25, 2018).

At bolt cutter police believe was used in the assault was found at the crime scene.

Santa Monica police found a baseball bat in Escobar's car that was allegedly used to repeatedly beat the victims in the head and shoulders during the early morning assaults, according to LAPD.

All were homeless except Steven Ray Cruze Jr., 39, a San Gabriel resident who was sleeping under the pier when he was killed after an all-night fishing trip last Thursday, police said ("Homicide Victim Found Under Santa Monica Pier Was Not Homeless, Authorities Say," September 24, 2018).

Escobar, who may have been granted asylum in the U.S., served from 1995 to 2000 in state prison in Texas for a burglary conviction, Hayes said.

He also was arrested in Texas on suspicion of assault and criminal trespass during the past two years, Hayes said.

“He is a violent predator,” he said. "He’s preying on innocent people in particular. In most of these cases our victims were asleep and he went up and did it."

Escobar fled Texas after being questioned on August 30 by Houston police as a person of interest in the disappearance of his aunt and uncle, Hayes said.

He arrived by car in Southern California on September 5, he said.

Three days later, on September 8, Escobar allegedly committed his first assault, on Santa Monica Beach.

On September 10, he assaulted a second victim on the beach.

Two of the seven victims remain hospitalized in comas, Hayes said.

Escobar was arrested after a Santa Monica officer noticed him walking near the scene and "noticed Ramon Escobar’s distinctive gait," he said.

The officer also "recognized that his physical features and clothing resembled that of the suspect pictured in the crime alert we released,” Hayes said.

Santa Monica police tied Escobar to the four assaults in the beach city, police said.

"We believe that the suspect in custody today is responsible for all four of those incidents," said SMPD Capt. Wendell Shirley.

"The people that live, work and visit Santa Monica and Los Angeles are safer today because this suspect is in custody," he said.

Escobar was booked into jail on Monday and was being held without bail.


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