Two men drinking in a Santa Ana bar were kidnaped, robbed and taken to a remote Malibu canyon road, where one was fatally shot execution-style and the other escaped unharmed by bolting into the brush, authorities said.
Police on Wednesday identified the shooting victim as Augustine Mejia Lucero, 25, of Santa Ana. He died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, apparently by a handgun fired at close range, Santa Ana Police spokeswoman Maureen Haacker said.
The motive for the slaying was “apparently robbery, since the victims were robbed of their belongings while they were in the car,” Haacker said.
Police declined to disclose other details, including the name of the surviving kidnap victim and the name of the bar, because they said it could jeopardize the investigation. Police have no suspects, Haacker said.
The abduction occurred about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, when Lucero and a companion were taken from a bar in the area of 5th Street and Harbor Boulevard and forced into a red car by two armed men, Haacker said.
After driving the victims around for more than three hours, the kidnapers took them to Decker Road about a quarter-mile north of Pacific Coast Highway, and made them get out of the car and kneel by the side of the road, Pitkin said.
After Lucero was shot, his companion became terrified and bolted into the brush, said Sgt. Tom Pitkin, watch commander for the Malibu station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is assisting in the investigation.
“It was an execution,” Pitkin said. ". . . When the survivor saw them execute his friend, he just bailed and headed down the hill.”
The survivor, who apparently eluded his captors for about four hours in the dense brush, was described as a Salvadoran national between the ages of 25 and 30. Decker Road, in the area where the man made his escape, is one of the steepest and most remote roads in the Malibu area, Pitkin said.
The survivor waited until daylight Monday and then flagged down a passing motorist, Pitkin said.
Since the shooting, county sheriff’s deputies and Santa Ana police have uncovered few clues they say they can discuss publicly, and many questions they haven’t been able to answer.
“We are perplexed as to why the suspects would drive all that way,” Haacker said. “There are a number of things we are trying to find out.”
Another police official, who asked not to be named, also questioned why the kidnapers drove their victims around for several hours.
“This begs the question: If they were just going to rob them, why drive all that way?” asked one officer, who asked not to be identified. “And why kill them over a robbery? I would suspect they were looking for more than just what these (victims) had on them.”
Police have not said what type of gun was used. They said the only clue left at the scene was a pair of surgical gloves, apparently used to prevent fingerprints from being left.