Nereida Villanueva, 33
Nereida “Neri” Villanueva, a 33-year-old Latina, was fatally shot on Saturday, July 1, in the 13900 block of Coteau Drive in South Whittier, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.
Villanueva was at her apartment with her boyfriend about 11 a.m. when her ex-husband, Efrem Ruben Lozoya, arrived to drop off one of their two children, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Moore.
After he came inside, Lozoya pulled out a gun and fired at Villanueva and her boyfriend, striking them both, Moore said.
He then fled, leaving the children behind in the apartment, Moore said. It’s not clear if the7-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy witnessed the shooting.
Villanueva was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:28 a.m., according to coroner’s records. Her boyfriend was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, but is expected to survive, Moore said.
Villanueva and Lozoya, a 38-year-old Latino from Pico Rivera, had been divorced for several years, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The Times reported that Lozoya was employed by GEO Group Inc., a contractor that provides jail services to the Montebello Police Department. The company’s website identified Lozoya as the jail’s administrator.
Lozoya turned himself in at a local police station the day of the shooting, Moore said.
He was arrested and booked in lieu of $2 million bail. On July 5, he was charged with murder and attempted murder, with the special allegation that he intentionally discharged a firearm, causing great bodily injury and death, according to the district attorney’s release.
Lozoya’s arraignment was continued to July 18 at the L.A. County Superior Court’s Norwalk Courthouse.
Villanueva worked as an accountant. An online fundraiser for her children had numerous comments about her upbeat personality.
“One of the most beautiful people that I had ever met,” wrote one contributor, “Never a day without the biggest smile and positive attitude. Thank you for your sunshine, Neri.”
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.