A 19-year-old gang member suspected of stabbing a Huntington Beach high school student to death was charged Friday with first-degree murder, authorities said.
Alan David Salomon of San Bernardino was arrested Thursday, after two months of investigation involving almost a third of the Garden Grove police force and assistance by El Cajon Police.
Investigators called the slaying “a significant overreaction” by the assailant who repeatedly stabbed 16-year-old Mary Irene Lewis and left her for dead, Capt. Dave Abrecht said.
Lewis apparently had met Salomon through mutual friends the night she was killed.
“They were involved in a minor dispute,” Abrecht said during a news conference Friday. “She needed money for gas since her car was being driven around and they were going to an area that’s farther than where she wanted to go, just typical teen-age arguments to me. But at some point, it became violently out of control.”
Salomon was being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. A defense attorney was appointed for the suspect Friday and arraignment was set for Aug. 25, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Douglas Woodsmall.
Police said the break in the investigation came after detectives were able to persuade one woman and two men who witnessed the slaying to come forward. Those witnesses told police they were in Lewis’s white Nissan Sentra at the time of the stabbing, Abrecht said.
Police said the witnesses may have ties to Salomon’s gang.
“It was difficult first of all, identifying them, and then getting them to come forward,” Abrecht said. “We had to put pressure on them, letting them know that we had enough information to charge them criminally.”
The witnesses have not been charged as accessories to murder, Abrecht said, because “they’re more valuable to us as witnesses than as suspects.”
On Thursday, about 50 police officers scattered across Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties to serve nine search warrants and arrested Salomon at his parents’ San Bernardino home. Several knives were recovered, one of which authorities say may be the murder weapon.
If convicted of murder, Salomon faces a possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors also filed an enhancement charge--accusing the suspect of using a dangerous weapon--that carries an additional one-year term.