Los Angeles police seeking second person in the killing of 17-year-old Xavier Chavarin

Candles are lit at a memorial.
Daniel Chavarin stands by the memorial set up for his son Xavier, who was fatally stabbed last week.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities are seeking a second suspect in the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Xavier Chavarin in El Sereno last week, Los Angeles police said Thursday.

David Zapata, 32 — who was arrested Wednesday after a standoff with law enforcement at a home in Alhambra — drove from the crime scene in a Honda CR-V, police said. Another man was in the passenger seat, authorities said.

Police declined to give details on the possible accomplice at a Thursday news conference, saying they were “actively pursuing” the man.

“There appears to be another individual, a suspect that [Zapata] drove away with in the first incident. We are looking into that. That part of the investigation is still ongoing,” LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett said.

July 2022 photo of Xavier Chavarin, right, with his half-brother, Mason Chavarin
July 2022 photo of Xavier Chavarin, right, with his half-brother, Mason Chavarin, at his favorite restaurant, Benihana’s. 17-year-old Xavier Chavarin was fatally stabbed last week on March 3.
(Chavarin family)

Brandishing a large knife, Zapata walked up behind Xavier outside the King Torta restaurant on Valley Boulevard in El Sereno about 3:55 p.m. on March 3 and repeatedly stabbed the teenager in the back, police said. The victim, a senior at nearby Woodrow Wilson High School, stumbled into the restaurant and collapsed onto the dining room floor, where he died.

Zapata had no connection to Xavier, police said Thursday.

“As far as we know there was absolutely no relationship” between them, Rabbett said.

Zapata sped off in the Honda and struck again five hours later, police said, stabbing a man named Daniel Villalobos outside a liquor store about 1½ miles away on Valley Boulevard. Villalobos was released from the hospital in critical but stable condition, police said.

Surveillance footage from the two establishments where the crimes occurred helped police identify Zapata, according to Rabbett. The lieutenant said “several individuals” reached out to the LAPD to identify Zapata as the man in the footage.

Police served a search warrant at Zapata’s home after the arrest, recovering “items of interest,” according to a law enforcement source. After he was detained, police attempted to interview Zapata, who was incoherent during the conversation, according to sources.

Zapata struggled with mental health issues and drug problems, police and his ex-girlfriend said.

“For a long time I would say ... ‘Something is wrong with David. He doesn’t seem right,’ ” said Zapata’s ex-girlfriend, Claudia Montes, who shares a child with the accused killer.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.