A convicted criminal and two suspects were recently arrested in connection with the murder of Rafael Morales of Perris, as well as other offenses.
According to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials, 27-year-old Morales was killed on Christmas Eve after deputies responded to a late-night report of a shooting in the 300 block of West 7th Street close to Perris Boulevard.
The Central Homicide Unit then secured a crime scene and took over the investigation.
Authorities detained Miguel Angel Villegas, 30, and Andrik Avalos Villasenor, 20, on suspicion of murder on Sunday afternoon, while 21-year-old Kassandra Lepe was arrested on Wednesday. All three of them are Hemet residents.
In addition to murder, Villegas and Villasenor are accused of robbery and burglary. Villegas is also charged with assault with a firearm. Lepe is also charged with receiving stolen goods.
Villasenor and Robert Presley were booked in Riverside are detained at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, while Lepe is held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Both men were scheduled to attend court at the Riverside Hall of Justice on Thursday afternoon. Lepe has been ordered to appear in court on Friday at the same location. She and Villasenor are both being held with a $1,000,000 bail. Villegas is being held without bail.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Ed Baeza said the trio was engaged in an unspecified conflict at Morales’ home around 11 p.m. Saturday. Baeza said the victim had at least one shot to the upper body during the altercation.
According to Baeza, detectives from the Central Homicide Unit quickly identified Villegas and Villasenor as two alleged attackers. Both were tracked to separate locations the next day and safely taken into custody.
Lepe was later identified and apprehended on East Florida Avenue in Hemet.
She and Villasenor do not have any prior felony convictions in Riverside County. However, the court records show Villegas has priors for assault resulting in great bodily harm, auto theft, driving under the influence of drugs, as well as statutory rape.
Police said there was no available background information on the suspects. The murder investigation is still being conducted. And they encourage anybody with information about this incident to contact the police.
Another shooting by woman
Lepe was not the only woman arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Perris man recently.
Kayla Sherea Foster was arrested Tuesday for allegedly shooting Dorian Herrod during a fight in the 500 block of Haystack Loop north of Menifee.
On Monday night, the 34-year-old woman was detained and booked on murder suspicion into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Foster is being held on a $1,000,000 bail.
Her first appearance in court was set for Thursday afternoon at Riverside Hall of Justice. Foster is not only charged with murder but also allegations of gun possession and great bodily harm.
According to the sergeant, Herrod was found to be severely injured when patrol deputies and paramedics arrived at the scene after witnesses dialed 911.
He claimed that the victim passed away shortly after being brought to a local trauma facility.
Foster surrendered to the police without incident. She also has never been convicted of a felony in Riverside County, according to records.
No information was provided regarding a potential motive or, if any, a connection between the suspect and the victim.
According to data from an FBI study and other publications, females’ involvement in active shooter situations like Foster’s is unusual — only nine out of 250 cases on the FBI’s list of active shooter incidents that occurred in the US between 2000 and 2017 involved female shooters.
According to the list, the women involved in such shootings typically had handguns. And they started shooting inside establishments like colleges, stores or their present or former workplaces.
Criminal justice professor Adam Lankford at the University of Alabama said that, in general, there are fewer female shooters regarding fatal shootings with firearms.