Driver arrested on suspicion of murder in Porter Ranch crash that killed two teens
An employee at a Safeway store was arrested on suspicion of murder in the fatal car crash that killed two teenage boys who police say were texting while driving.
The suspected murderer, Eric D. Rodriguez, 22, of Porter Ranch, was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of two counts of murder with special circumstances and three counts of felony car theft.
He was being held on $2 million bail, with the possibility that prosecutors may seek capital punishment.
The bodies of 16-year-old Tanner DeLeon and 16-year-old Jeremiah DeLeon were found Sept. 16 in a fiery head-on crash in the South Central Heights of Porter Ranch area and a day later, a third teenager was killed in a separate crash.
Police arrested Rodriguez earlier this month and have been investigating the crash since the boys’ bodies were found. They have arrested three other people in the crash but have not yet released them. The arrests are pending further investigation.
According to a story in the Union-Tribune, police allege that Rodriguez is the driver of the car that struck the boys and that there was texting between him and both teens. Investigators are continuing to look into why the boys were driving their own car the night they were killed.
Officers responding to a call at about 11 p.m. found the teens, who were not wearing seat belts, in a burned-out van heading east on La Casita, authorities said.
A witness told authorities that the three teens were texting on their cell phones as they drove. As police swarmed around the vehicle, the driver accelerated out of the parking lot, going straight at the officers using his hazard lights, authorities said.
“The driver hit (the officers) and then drove back into the parking lot,” according to police spokesman Cmdr. Dan Dominguez. “Then he ran up through the back yard of the burned-out buildings, hitting the back wall of one, and came up to the front of the building.”
Dominguez said there is no indication that the teens, who were from Riverside, were suicidal.
The first teens died at the scene, while the third died in the hospital later that night. The three teens were not wearing seat belts and their bodies showed massive internal injuries.
The two bodies of the boys were found