California Father and Son Arrested for Alleged Murder in 3 Cold Cases: Police

Anthony Velasquez is the prime suspect in three murders and Manuel Velasquez was arrested as a suspected accessory to the crimes, PEOPLE confirmed

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Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

A father and son were arrested in Los Angeles Thursday in connection to three cold case murders in the area.

Anthony Velasquez, 31, and his father Manuel Velasquez, 51, were arrested in the 300 block of Humphreys Avenue in East L.A. at around 4:30 a.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) confirmed to PEOPLE.

Anthony is a murder suspect in the fatal shootings of Jesus Avalos, Eduardo Robles and Amanda Nicole Lopez who were killed between 2014 and 2018, while his father Manuel was arrested as a suspected accessory to the crimes, per the LASD. All three victims were killed in East L.A.

Arrest records show Anthony is being held on a $2 million bail and his father is being held on a $1 million bail. They are expected to have their first appearance in court on Monday.

"It's a big milestone," Lt. Hugo Reynaga told ABC 7 on Thursday. "I don't know at this point, but we may be able to tie these two to other local murders, also cold cases."

"In addition, we're just happy to provide the families of these three victims some kind of assurance that justice is going to be served," he added.

The arrests come a month after the LASD offered an $80,000 reward for case information once they discovered the ballistic evidence from Avalos' murder in 2014 matched the ballistic evidence of Robles' murder in 2015, meaning the same handgun was used in both cases.

Amanda “Nikki” Lopez; Eduardo Robles; Jesse Avalos.

"We've had nobody come forward that can really tell us who these suspects are," Homicide Bureau Captain Joe Mendoza said in a statement. "So we are trying to get them to come forward because we know those witnesses are out there. And the $80,000 reward may quite possibly help do just that."

The three murders occurred within 2.2 miles of each other and while the motive remains unclear, "investigators believe the victims were known to the suspects and were specifically targeted based on their relationships with the suspects," per a press release shared with PEOPLE.

On Feb. 10, 2014, 34-year-old victim Avalos was called just before 11 p.m. to help a friend jump start their car and arrived at the scene within 15 minutes, according to police. At around 3:23 am, police received a call to the scene and discovered the victim fatally shot with "numerous gunshot wounds" in the driver's seat of his car. The hood of his SUV was still up from the jump start, police revealed.

Robles, 38, was shot "several times in the upper torso" on July 6, 2015 after getting into a physical altercation on a driveway where "approximately 15 people were present." Police claim a man left the scene of the physical altercation, went to Robles car to slash all of his tires and returned five minutes later to shoot the victim.

On April 22, 2018, 27-year-old Lopez was sleeping in a tent outside a government office when the suspect searched the homeless encampment to find her at around 2:40 a.m., according to the LASD. Once the suspect located Lopez, they opened fire in the tent, where she was fatally injured.

Avalos' sister Maria Orozco told ABC 7 she wasn't optimistic that she would ever get a call that arrests were going to be made in connection to his death.

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"It meant relief and I thought of my brother, that's he's somewhere in heaven right now celebrating and that he's happy that justice was made and that they will not hurt anyone anymore," the victim's sister said.

In a statement with the LASD last month, Orozco stressed "I speak for my family as well as the other two families. We don't have closure, we don't have justice and I'm sure all of these families are still suffering."

"Our brother is truly missed by our family, by his children," she added through tears, police noted.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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