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Two jailed in sniper probe

first_img Smith let deputies into his apartment, where he was with his girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter while the girlfriend was at work, Deeley said. Deputies had earlier indications that Smith and Martinez were involved in the shootings, got more information Friday, did more detective work over the weekend and obtained search and arrest warrants Monday, Deeley said. “They’re friends, though there is a considerable age difference,” Deeley said of the suspects. The men’s apartments are not the ones searched by deputies the day after the sniper attack, though they are in the same complex, across a field and dry Amargosa Creek from the car dealership. Deputies were led to the other apartments by bloodhounds set to track the scent from where rifle shell casings were found at a low block wall that borders the apartment complex. Marijuana was found at one of those apartments, where special-weapons deputies fired tear gas after hearing noise from a television set, although no one was home. Someone from the suspects’ apartments apparently visited that apartment, probably in connection with marijuana sales, Deeley said. “There was traffic back and forth between the two locations,” Deeley said. Deeley said deputies received a number of calls from people offering information and that someone may be eligible for $22,500 in rewards. Most callers said they had read or seen news accounts about the sniper attack or had heard about the rewards, he said. The reward grew Tuesday night to $22,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the sniper or snipers. Los Angeles County supervisors offered $10,000, the Lancaster City Council authorized a $5,000 reward Tuesday night, state parole agent Larry Dorsey offered $5,000 from his own pocket at the City Council meeting, and the Association of Los Angeles Deputies, a deputies’ union, put up $2,500. “Because of all the information in the media and news about the reward, we have gotten calls from individuals with information,” Deeley said. Smith was released from state prison in 1998. He had accepted a 15-years-to-life prison term in 1994 for second-degree murder, but an appellate court later reversed the murder conviction and he was convicted of manslaughter, Deeley said. Prosecutors said Smith and two companions, also deaf, lived in South Los Angeles but went to a Van Nuys apartment in 1992 to visit deaf friends. When they went to the apartment of a deaf woman they knew, they found Edward James Powell Jr., 27, with her. An argument broke out, possibly over Powell wearing the rival gang color red, and there was a fight that ended with Smith shooting Powell, prosecutors said. Smith’s attorney contended that police got faulty information from interviews with deaf people without interpreters. Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Sheriff’s officials believe the first shot Jan. 6 was fired into the Mazda dealership showroom window to draw out sheriff’s deputies, then the snipers waited until most of the deputies who arrived drove off and fired at least a dozen shots at three remaining deputies standing in the sales lot. None of the deputies was hit. “We believe both were involved in the sniper attack on the deputies and employees at the Mazda dealership,” Deeley said. Deputies will not say what may have been the snipers’ motive. Smith and Martinez were arrested in simultaneous raids at 5 a.m. at the apartments, which are across a small courtyard from each other. Deputies broke open Martinez’s door when no one answered, but he was arrested without resistance. LANCASTER – A deaf convicted killer and a reputed teenage gang member were arrested Wednesday as suspects in a sniper attack three weeks ago on sheriff’s deputies. Val Smith, 35, who served six years behind bars for a 1992 Van Nuys killing, and 19-year-old Samuel Martinez, who deputies identified as a gang member, live in neighboring apartments within sight of the car sales lot where deputies were shot at Jan. 6 by someone with a semiautomatic rifle. “We’ve been watching both of them to determine if they both stay here on a regular basis,” said Capt. Carl Deeley, commander of the Lancaster sheriff’s station, after the pre-dawn arrests by a special-weapons team. Smith and Martinez were booked on suspicion of attempted murder and Martinez on a narcotics offense. Deputies said they found marijuana they believe was being sold from Martinez’s apartment. They didn’t find the .22-caliber rifle used to shoot at the deputies. last_img read more

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