Whittier Police: Kidnapping, Murder of Woman Believed to Have Been Random Attack
Above: File photo of Esparza | Courtesy of Whittier PD
A Los Angeles County man has been arrested on murder and other charges in connection with what police believe was a random attack.
According to a press release by the Whittier Police Department, department officers and members of the LADA Community Violence Reduction Team arrested Gabriel Esparza, 20, in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old Andrea Vazquez on the afternoon of August 21. The arrest occurred without incident at Esparza’s workplace in Lakewood.
The shooting occurred in the parking area of Penn Park shortly after midnight on August 20.
Esparza was booked into the Whittier Police Department jail on charges of murder and kidnapping. He is being held without bail. Law enforcement officials also recovered a suspected weapon used in the crime, as well as Esparza’s 2013 White Toyota Tacoma truck.
Detectives ultimately found Vazquez’s body in a field near Alessandro Boulevard and Merwin Street in Moreno Valley late on the night of August 21.
Multiple law enforcement agencies including the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Downey Police Department, La Habra Police Department, and the LADA Investigations Bureau Community Violence Reduction Team assisted in the investigation.
Police believe that Vazquez and her male friend were randomly targeted by the suspect while at Penn Park. The case was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on August 23.
Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details are available for disclosure. Anonymous tips can be provided to the crime tip line at 562-567-9299.