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Santa Monica Police Make Two More Gun Arrests

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By Jorge Casuso

June 2, 2021 -- Gun arrests in Santa Monica are becoming more bizarre with the latest two involving a rifle wrapped in a baby blanket and a gun tucked in the waistband of a felon sporting a bullet proof vest.

The incidents that took place on Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon bring to eight the the number of firearms arrests in the past month, four of hem involving convicted felons.

Most of the guns confiscated are "not recorded, are stolen or are ghost guns" put together with parts that don't have brand names or serial numbers, said Police Department spokesman Lt. Rudy Flores.

Rifle confiscated in baby blanket

"We're seeing an influx of illegal weapons out and about," Flores said. "Most of the guns are illegally possessed."

The officers, he said, "have done an excellent job of recovering the guns without incident."

The latest firearms arrest took place at around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday after police dispatch received a call reporting a reckless driver possibly under the influence.

The caller said the silver Honda Accord "had hit several parked vehicles, in both the Los Angeles and Santa Monica areas," Flores said.

Left: Rifle confiscated in baby blanket (Courtesy SMPD)

After colliding with a parked car, the Honda had "ended up in the front lawn of a home in the 1100 block of Cedar Street," he said.

The officers responding to the call immediately detained the driver and a male passenger, Flores said.

A witness told the officers that a woman "had walked away carrying a large item wrapped in a blanket."

Officers found the woman, later identified as Yaylin Lopez, a 19-year-old from Van Nuys, a short distance away, Flores said.

She was "in possession of a sawed-off .22 caliber rifle and several Xanax pills."

Yaylin Lopez Jose Bueno Fernando Vazquez
From left: Yaylin Lopez, Jose Bueno and Fernando Vazquez

The driver, Jose Enrique Bueno, a 20-year-old male from Huntington Park, and the passenger, Fernando Vazquez, an 18-year-male from Los Angeles, "both showed obvious signs of intoxication," Flores said.

All three subjects were taken into custody, he said.

Lopez was booked at the Santa Monica Jail for carrying a concealed firearm and possession of benzodiazepine drugs without a prescription.

Bueno, was booked for felony DUI drugs, while Vazquez was booked for public intoxication with drugs.

The arrests came one day after police arrested Willie Earl Stewart, a 49-year-old convicted felon from Las Vegas for carrying a loaded firearm and wearing body armor.

The arrest was made shortly after police responded to a call at around 4:45 p.m. Monday reporting a man armed with a handgun in his waistband on the 1400 block of 16th Street.

"The reporting party told the dispatcher that the subject was standing next to a white Crown Victoria and was accompanied by another male," Flores said.
Willie Earl Stewart
Willie Earl Stewart

Officers found a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun (Glock 17) in Stewart’s waistband and discovered he was wearing a bulletproof vest, he said.

Stewart was taken into custody without incident, Flores said. A computer check revealed he was a felon convicted of charges that included robbery and burglary.

Stewart was booked into the Santa Monica Jail for being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and carrying a loaded firearm in public.

He was also booked for being a prior convicted felon with body armor, carrying a concealed firearm and possessing ammunition when prohibited to possess a firearm.

Stewart was the eighth suspect arrested for illegally possessing a firearm since May 2 ("Police Make Sixth Gun Arrest This Month," May 27, 2021).

Anyone with any additional information pertaining to Monday and Tuesday's arrests should call the Criminal Investigations Division at 310-458-8451 or the Santa Monica Department’s Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.

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