Thompson Case Trio Linked to 2nd Death

Times Staff Writer

Three suspects under arrest in the murder of David Eugene Thompson in South-Central Los Angeles were being investigated Wednesday for a second robbery and killing that took place about an hour after the Tustin church elder was shot to death in a phone booth, police reported.

Lt. Charles Massey, a Newton Street Division detective, said witnesses had linked the three suspects to the fatal shooting of Leopoldo Salgado, 49, and the wounding of another man.

Todd Lavera, 22; Tracy Carter, 18, and a 16-year-old boy--all believed to be members of the Hoover Crips Southside gang--have been booked on suspicion of killing Thompson, 27, at Slauson Avenue and Broadway as he tried to telephone for help for a disabled church bus just before midnight last Thursday.

Thompson, a postal employee and an elder at the Greater Zion Apostolic Church in Santa Ana, and his wife, Namora, had been with a group celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Church in Los Angeles.

Liquor Store Slaying

According to Lt. Joseph Freia of the LAPD's 77th Street Division, Lavera, Carter and the teen-ager were also linked by witnesses' descriptions to the killing of Salgado outside a liquor store in the 800 block of West Florence Avenue about 1:10 a.m. Friday.

Freia said Salgado came out of the liquor store to find his friend being accosted and trying to drive away. Salgado "tried to jump into the car, and they (the suspects) opened up on him," Freia said. "He died right there."

Witnesses said they saw three young suspects running away.

Salgado's friend, whose name was not immediately available, was reported in satisfactory condition with gunshot wounds.

Lavera and Carter were arrested and booked for investigation in the Thompson slaying on Tuesday. The 16-year-old youth, unnamed because of his age, was taken into custody on Sunday and has been turned over to juvenile authorities.

Wife's Description

Namora Thompson, 38, told police that three armed young men accosted them, took $10 from her purse, pushed her out of the Thompsons' car and sped away. The auto was recovered later in another part of the city.

Thompson was described by friends and church members as a spiritual leader and a kind, gentle man, who was respected by other members of the congregation. His wife said he was praying during the seconds before he was shot to death. Police found him on the floor of the gasoline station telephone booth.

Police said Tuesday that the investigation into Thompson's death is continuing but declined to say whether other suspects are being sought in the shooting.

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