3 Phone Booth Murder Suspects Linked to 2nd Robbery, Slaying

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 of Newton Street Division detectives 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 a 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 had been with a group celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Church in Los Angeles.

The robbers pushed his wife out of the couple's car and sped away in it. According to Lt. Joseph Freia of 77th Street Division, the car was found abandoned near the liquor store in the 800 block of West Florence Avenue where Salgado was shot to death shortly after 1 a.m.

He said evidence found in the car also appeared to connect the three suspects to that murder.

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 alleged fellow gang member was taken into custody on Sunday and has been turned over to juvenile authorities.

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