Rocio Lissette Vasquez, 46
Rocio Lissette Vasquez, a 46-year-old Latina, was shot and killed Monday, Aug. 24, in the 700 block of South Brady Avenue in East Los Angeles, according to investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide bureau.
Vasquez’s body was discovered by firefighters around 6:45 a.m. as they were putting out a fire in her home, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department. Her badly burned body was found on a futon in one of the bedrooms, where the fire had started.
Investigators originally believed the fire was accidentally caused by Vasquez smoking in bed, and that she died in the blaze. After the autopsy, however, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined Vasquez was killed by a gunshot before the fire being set, according to the release.
Coroner’s records are not available in this case because of a security hold imposed by the sheriff’s department.
Homicide investigators began looking at Vasquez’s acquaintances, and learned that Eddie Junior Tapia, a 41-year-old Latino, had frequently visited her home, according to the department release.
Tapia was considered a person of interest in the case, according to the release, and investigators wanted to question him. Before they could talk to him, however, Tapia was shot and killed by deputies on Sept. 10, after he held people hostage in a Chris’ and Pitt’s BBQ restaurant in the 9200 block of Lakewood Boulevard in Downey.
During the siege, Tapia ordered one of the hostages to use his cellphone to videotape him so he could send a message to his children, according to KNBC-TV. The hostage, who called himself Danny, gave the video to KNBC so Tapia’s children could hear his message, according to the station.
In the video posted on KNBC’s website, Tapia stands with his left hand in his pocket and his right hand holding a tall red glass, drinking occasionally as he soberly explain his situation.
“Hi guys,” Tapia says at the start of the video. “…The things they’re trying to say bad about me, you know, I didn’t hurt that lady. I got caught up again. Bad luck, bad decisions. I don't want to go back to jail, guys. You already know what bad luck I’ve got.… I love you guys to death and I don’t want you guys to have to be visiting me in prison.”
Tapia didn't specify what lady he was referring to. The Times reported that deputies began following Tapia in a helicopter that evening when they spotted him driving a stolen vehicle. During the chase, Tapia got out of the stolen car and used a gun to carjack a woman’s silver sedan.
Tapia was pursued by deputies, often at high speeds, through Monterey Park, Alhambra, Montebello, Pico Rivera and neighboring cities. His vehicle struck at least one car and nearly hit a bicyclist until he was forced to a stop in Downey by California Highway Patrol officers, according to The Times. Tapia then jumped out of the car, fired his handgun into the air and ran into the restaurant.
Sheriff’s investigators called a crisis negotiator to the scene, according to The Times, but it’s not clear if the negotiator ever made contact with Tapia. A telephone rang in the restaurant throughout the video, but Tapia ignored it. Hostages reported that Tapia released children and elderly patrons after he came in.
After about an hour, sheriff's deputies stormed the restaurant and Tapia was shot and killed, according to the department release. No hostages were injured.
Detectives are still investigating Vasquez’s death and want to talk to people who knew her and Tapia.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s homicide bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.