Fugitive arrested in Texas is charged with killing 15-year-old in South L.A. graffiti dispute
A 23-year-old man has been arrested and charged with fatally shooting a 15-year-old boy -- a killing triggered by the victim spraying graffiti in a rival gang's territory, authorities allege.
Esteban Ceja was arrested in El Paso on March 20, said LAPD Det. Chris Barling. He was transported to California and booked into a Los Angeles jail on March 30, according to jail records.
During the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2015, Ceja, a member of the DNA ("Drugs and Alcohol") street gang, spotted 15-year-old Francisco Bautista tagging a wall with paint in an alley near Ceja's home at Broadway and Florence Avenue, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Police allege that Ceja opened fire, striking Bautista and a 19-year-old man who was nearby. Bautista died from his injuries, but the other man recovered.
Witnesses identified the shooter as Ceja, who has "very distinctive facial tattoos," according to the affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola.
Hours after the killing, police searched Ceja's family's home and other addresses associated with him but could not locate him. In November, after the Los Angeles County district attorney's office filed two felony charges against Ceja, for murder and attempted murder, prosecutors asked the FBI to help track him down.
Investigators conducted electronic surveillance of the suspect's friends and family, eventually finding a phone with an Arizona area code that was being used in El Paso.
The "calling patterns" of the phone were nearly identical to the phone previously used by Ceja. Ceja, also known as "Payaso," or "Clown," is being held in a Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $3.04-million bail. If convicted, he faces up to life in state prison.