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Roger Soriano, 21

Roger Soriano, a 21-year-old Latino, was shot and killed early Saturday, July 18, in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.

Montebello police Lt. Andy Vuncanon said Soriano and his companion, Kevin Fierro, a 23-year-old Latino, were shot and killed by a business man whom they allegedly tried to rob. Vuncanon said Soriano and Fierro were on a crime rampage that included a carjacking and another robbery earlier that evening.

The shooting incident began about 12:18 a.m., when Montebello police received a report about a robbery and shots being fired in the area.

When officers arrived, they found the business owner outside with a gunshot wound in the stomach, and Soriano on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds, Vuncanon said.

The business owner had closed his business for the evening and was walking on the sidewalk when the alleged robbery occurred, Vuncanon said. Investigators have not identified the man out of concern for his safety.

Soriano was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:33 a.m., according to coroner’s records. The business owner was treated for his wounds, which were not life-threatening, Vuncanon said.

Investigators followed a trail of blood to find Fierro’s body in the 2100 block of Cleveland Avenue, on the grounds of Montebello High School.

Fierro was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:46 a.m., according to coroner’s records.

The shooting ended what investigators described as at least three random street robberies that evening, allegedly committed by Soriano, Fierro and Toni Danielle Lopez, a 21-year-old Latina.

Vuncanon said the crimes involved three jurisdictions—the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Montebello police, which is taking the lead in the investigation because of the homicides.

The alleged crimes started about 11:30 p.m. on July 17 in the 3600 block of West Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, when Soriano, Fierro and Lopez allegedly approached a man in his parked car and threatened him with a gun. The trio allegedly took the man’s cellphone, wallet and other personal items, and stole his Toyota Camry.  

A short while later, a man walking in the area of Bradshaw and Whittier was approached by a gunman who took his wallet and “other personal property,” Vuncanon said.

The trio used the carjacked Camry to continue driving east to Montebello, where the two men approached the business owner, Vuncanon said.

Investigators learned about the earlier robberies after they searched the bodies of Soriano and Fierro and found the stolen cellphone and other items, Vuncanon said. Investigators also found a handgun next to Soriano, and confiscated the handgun of the business owner as evidence, he said.

Lopez was allegedly waiting in the car when the shooting began, Vuncanon said.

“We believe she was fairly close because she was the getaway driver. She heard the gunshots and drove away as soon as the shooting started," he said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lopez three days later inside the stolen Camry at Eugene A. Obregon Park in East Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed charges of attempted murder, two counts of robbery and one count of receiving stolen property against Lopez on July 27. Her bail was set at $2 million, and she is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 6 in Department 30 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown L.A.

Prosecutors originally charged Lopez with two counts of murder in connection with Soriano and Fierro’s deaths, but those charges were dropped “after further legal research determined the provocative act doctrine does not apply in this case,” according to a news release.

California’s provocative act doctrine says people can be held responsible for a murder if their actions provoked someone else into killing another person. 

Vuncanon said the business owner’s handgun was registered and legally purchased, but detectives are still investigating whether the man had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon.

District attorney spokesman Greg Risling said his office could not comment on other possible charges while the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Montebello Dets. C. Adams or P. Antista at (323) 887-1313. Those who wish to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Jeanette Marantos

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