A story for every victim

Jabarri Rafael Butts, 36

Jabarri Rafael Butts, a 36-year-old black man, was shot and killed Tuesday, April 29, in the 500 block of S. Vincent Ave. in West Covina, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records. 

The West Covina Police Department received calls about gunshots in the area about 9:45 p.m. Officers discovered Butts' body in the parking lot behind a Social Security office building. 

Butts was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:55 p.m., with gunshot wounds to his head and body, according to coroner's records. 

The victim was a homeless man who had lived on the streets of West Covina for more than a year, West Covina Police Det. Brandon Karmann said. 

The area where Butts died is a place where homeless people often sleep, Karmann said, but it's not known if Butts was camping there. 

Investigators are still trying to determine what, if any, relationship Butts had with his killer.

Manuel Jerome Lujan, a 33-year-old Latino from La Puente, was arrested on suspicion of murder and other crimes the following day, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. 

Lujan pleaded not guilty June 4 to charges of murder in connection with Butts' death, the attempted murder of his former girlfriend, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm and exhibiting a concealed firearm in public, the news release said.

The charges include a special allegation that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, which caused great bodily injury and death. Prosecutors also allege that Lujan was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 2001. 

Lujan is accused of a series of crimes that began April 26, when he allegedly walked up to a man in a La Puente neighborhood, put a gun to his head and demanded the man's cellphone. 

The victim's friends approached the defendant and asked what was going on, prosecutors said. Lujan then allegedly pointed the gun at the group before leaving the area with the stolen cellphone. 

Three days later, Lujan was reportedly seen driving in a West Covina neighborhood acting erratically and waving a gun, prosecutors said. 

After police received calls about the shots fired near the 500 block of S. Vincent Street, they received another call about an hour later from Lujan's former girlfriend, saying the defendant allegedly threw rocks at her window and shot at her while she was in her home. 

Lujan is scheduled to return to court July 9 for a hearing in Department N of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pomona Branch. 

-- Jeanette Marantos 

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