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SANTA ANA : Man Arrested in Fatal Gun Battle

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with a gun battle inside an apartment building earlier this month that left two men dead, police said Wednesday.

Antonio Espino Garcia, 30, who has no known address, was arrested Tuesday and booked into Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Police suspect that Garcia and another man, Fernando Rodriquez Ramirez, 27, of Pacoima, walked into an apartment on the 1400 block of East Grace Street on Aug. 15 with the intention of robbing a drug dealer who apparently lived there, police spokeswoman Maureen Thomas said.

Garcia and Ramirez burst into the apartment and began firing semiautomatic handguns at four men inside the apartment, she said.

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“Unbeknownst to them, the four men inside were also armed,” Thomas said.

A gunfight erupted, during which Garcia was shot twice in the right arm and Ramirez was killed. One of the four occupants, Pedro Morales Rodriguez, 35, of Santa Ana, also was fatally wounded. Thomas said the occupants of the apartment were apparently defending themselves.

After the gunfire, Garcia fled to a nearby vacant house, leaving behind a trail of blood, Thomas said. Officers followed the trail and found Garcia, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. Initially, investigators were unsure of his role in the shooting. However, after interviewing him, police arrested him.

The other three occupants of the apartment also fled and have not been found or identified. Police found no drugs in the apartment.

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