Murder in Los Angeles County
Three suspects were charged on Thursday for an alleged wave of robberies in Los Angeles County that ultimately ended in a fatal accident.
The suspects were identified as 26-year-old Kaelenn Maea from Long Beach, 30-year-old Salagi Iakopo from Carson, and 23-year-old Mathew Salanoa from Placentia.
From September 22nd to September 29th, the suspects were allegedly responsible for multiple armed robberies in Downey, Compton, and South El Monte, according to the United States Attorney's Office.
In each robbery, one suspect would purportedly use a "short-style rifle to control the cashier and customers," while another suspect would steal the cash registers before fleeing the scene in a getaway car.
On September 27th, the trio allegedly robbed a gas station in Compton. One suspect was caught on surveillance video surveilling the store approximately 10 minutes before the robbery. The group then briefly left before returning.
While one suspect detached the cash register from the counter, another suspect aimed the rifle at the cashier and customers to prevent them from leaving. They escaped with approximately $1,500 in cash and fled the scene in a stolen Range Rover, according to authorities.
On September 29th, two suspects allegedly robbed a convenience store in South El Monte. One suspect aimed a rifle at the cashier while the other stole money from the cash drawer. In total, they made off with around $350 to $400. They were seen driving away in the stolen Range Rover, officials said.
On October 9th, L.A. County sheriff's deputies spotted the stolen Range Rover and attempted to stop it. The driver allegedly "accelerated and almost immediately crashed into another car, killing a civilian driver inside," according to court documents.
The suspects abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. Later, deputies found one suspect hiding in a trash can. Clothing belonging to another suspect was found next to a small space beneath a nearby house. Inside the stolen Range Rover, deputies found clothing, identification, and the cellphone of one suspect.
All three were charged with robbery under the Hobbs Act and using and carrying a firearm in relation to a violent crime. Maea and Salano are in custody, while Iakopo remains at large.
If convicted on both charges, each suspect faces up to 20 years in prison for the Hobbs Act robbery charge and life imprisonment for the firearm charge.
The case is still under investigation by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
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