Third Man Is Arrested in Drive-By Shooting Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A third man was arrested Thursday in connection with the fatal drive-by shooting of a Lake Forest youth, and authorities are hunting for a fourth suspect.

Mathew Lloyd Conant, 19, of Mission Viejo turned himself in at the Sheriff's Department substation in Laguna Niguel at 1 a.m Thursday, Lt. Richard J. Olson said. Conant was interviewed by detectives and subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to murder Bylan s Hanna, 17, who was shot in his bedroom Sunday as friends and family members helplessly looked on.

Two other suspects in the shooting, Christopher Michael Womack of Mission Viejo and Carl E. Stewart of Laguna Niguel, both 19, were charged with murder Thursday. They did not enter a plea; their arraignment was continued to Tuesday in South County Municipal Court.

Conant is scheduled to be arraigned today in South Court.

All three are held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 each.

Authorities have issued a $250,000 arrest warrant for a fourth suspect, Jason Paul Legare, 19, of Mission Viejo, the alleged driver.

According to reports by Sheriff's Department investigators, filed in court Thursday, Womack told detectives that Conant was the front passenger in the car and was the person who fired three times toward Hanna's house.

One bullet shattered Bylan's bedroom window and struck him in the lower abdomen. He died soon afterward.

Womack also told detectives that he and the three suspects are members of the AKA Family gang of Lake Forest, according to the reports. He also said that he knew the victim and his 20-year-old brother, Xavier, as members of the Nutwood gang, also of Lake Forest, according to the reports.

The shooting apparently was sparked by a scuffle between Xavier Hanna and Stewart last Friday night, Womack told detectives.

Interviewed Thursday, Hanna said that he, Bylan and several friends were dancing when he heard Stewart yell out: "Who's Bylan? Where's Bylan?"

Hanna said that as he was leaving later, he and Stewart exchanged heated words and "I took a swing, and we started tussling on the street."

As quickly as it had started, the fight ended, and they left the party, Hanna said.

Hanna denied that he or Bylan were members of a gang and said the accusation was fabricated to "turn what happened into a gang-related shooting."

In Anaheim, where he and his brothers grew up, they befriended members of the "Nuthood gang" of Santa Ana, Hanna said.

"We grew up with these guys in junior high and elementary, and they're our friends," he said. "But, we were never a part of it."

Womack told detectives that at the party the Hanna brothers threatened his friends, who then decided to arm themselves for protection, the reports said. He said Stewart got his gun, which he named "Christie Chrome," according to court documents.

Stewart later put the gun in the trunk of a red Camaro, Womack said. Early Sunday, Mathew Conant allegedly retrieved it before he and the other suspects headed out in the Camaro toward the Hannas' home on Palmek Circle.

They drove by the house and Conant fired three shots toward the house, Womack said. The alleged driver of the car, Legare, then sped away, he told detectives.

After the shooting, the group buried the gun and ammunition on a hill in Laguna Niguel, he said. Detectives later found both, according to the reports.

Parts of Womack's admission were later corroborated by Stewart in a separate interview with detectives.

On Thursday, at Boys Republic Academy in Chino where Womack graduated last year, school administrator Max Scott said staff members were "devastated" by news of the shooting.

Scott said Womack was a "bright student" who had won a merit scholarship to help him financially after graduation. He said that Womack was not involved in any gang activity during his one-year term at the school.

In court Thursday, Womack and Stewart lowered their heads and bent down behind the custody booth, trying to avoid cameras. At one point, Stewart asked the judge to prevent their pictures from being published.

Municipal Judge Ronald P. Kreber denied his request.

Funeral services for Bylan Hanna will be at noon today at Fair Haven Memorial Park in Santa Ana.

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