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Baseball Bat Killer Is Six-Time Deportee; Facing 3 Murder, 4 Attempted Murder Charges in Beatings of L.A. Homeless

12:33 AM PDT on September 26, 2018

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles police say the man apprehended on Monday morning in connection with recent brutal baseball bat attacks on sleeping homeless men arrived in L.A. from Houston, in early September shortly before launching a spree of seven brutal assaults over a two-week period that left three dead and two others clinging to life.

Ramon Escobar, 47, had also been deported six times between 1997 and 2011, ICE told the L.A. Times. The development turns the case into a potential lightning rod for conservative media, which often latch onto cases of illegal immigrants committing violent crimes to fuel racist hysteria directed at undocumented people.

Despite major outlying cases, such as the recent Mollie Tibbetts killing in Iowa, undocumented immigrants overall commit less crimes than citizens and studies suggest immigrants help bring down crime in communities where they settle.

At a news conference on Tuesday, LAPD stepped back from calling Escobar suspect a “serial killer.”

He allegedly beat to death two homeless men with a baseball bat while they slept in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 16 and a third man under the Santa Monica pier on Sep. 18, said LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Capt. Billy Hayes at LAPD headquarters. Two other men remain in the hospital in critical condition. Police said they recovered a pair of bolt cutters which may have also been used in the deadly assaults.

"The motive in most of these cases was robbery," Hayes said. "Although they were homeless individuals, he appears to have been homeless himself."

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Two of the victims were identified by police on Tuesday as Kelvin Williams, 59, who was killed at 7th and South Flower Street, and Branden Ridout, 24, killed on the same day near the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Flower Street.

The body of Steven Cruze Jr., 39, was discovered under the Santa Monica pier on Sep. 18. His father has said his son was not homeless, as previously reported by media outlets, but was sleeping under the pier after returning from an overnight fishing trip.

Police described Escobar as a “violent predator” with a prior criminal history in Texas that included five years in prison for burglary, and convictions for assault in November 2017 and criminal trespassing in February 2018. Escobar is an El Salvadoran citizen described by LAPD as a “previously deported felon.”

The suspect was captured by Santa Monica police early Monday  shortly after he allegedly attacked a homeless man who police said was sleeping or otherwise unaware of his surroundings in Santa Monica.

[dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]scobar is also wanted for questioning in the disappearance of two of his relatives in Texas, police said during the press briefing Tuesday. He drove his 2004 black Honda CRV across three states from Texas to L.A. to evade Houston police which sought to question him as a person of interest in the August disappearances of Dina Escobar, 60, and Rogelio Escobar, 65, L.A. police said Tuesday.

Police drew a timeline of seven brutal beatings by Escobar beginning on Sep. 8, shortly after they said he arrived in L.A. But Cpt. Hayes stepped back from describing Escobar as a “serial killer” during the press conference.

“We’re looking at that. The criteria for a serial killer is three or more victims. Obviously, we have three victims at this point of time and there are two that are in critical condition,” Cpt. Hayes said. “He is a violent predator and I will leave it at that.”

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