Three men killed in shooting on remote Palmdale road are identified

Broken glass is scattered near the the spot where four men were shot above Palmdale on Wednesday.
(Jeanette Marantos / Los Angeles Times)

The three men killed on a remote, unlit road above Palmdale late Wednesday night were all from the Los Angeles area, L.A. County coroner’s officials said Saturday.

The dead men were identified as Olukayode A. Owolabi, 27, of the South Bay community of Westchester; Sean B. Cowen, 24, of Van Nuys; and David Adalberto Hernandez-Licona, 24, of Boyle Heights, coroner’s Lt. David Smith said.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene shortly before midnight, according to coroner’s records.


A fourth man who was also shot survived and used his cellphone to call 911 at 11:16 p.m., Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred said Thursday.

“He said he’d been shot in the face, but he couldn’t describe where he was because he didn’t know the area,” Alfred said.

Paramedics had to use triangulation to track the shooting victims, who were found at Ranch Center Drive and 40th Street South, a blocked-off road just north of Ritter Canyon at the edge of an abandoned housing project that was never completed, Alfred said.

The lone survivor was taken to the hospital.

Based on their IDs, none of the men lived in the Antelope Valley, Alfred said.

The men were sitting two apiece in the front seats of a Toyota Camry sedan and an Audi SUV, authorities said. They were still in the cars when first responders arrived.

Very few people live in the area, except for employees at a horse ranch at Ranch Center Drive and Elizabeth Lake Road, about a half mile from the shooting site. One, who gave his name only as Dave, said he heard shots around 11 p.m.

“It sounded like an AK — a semiautomatic,” he said. “I heard about 20 rounds, and then 10 minutes later, a single shot.”

Another ranch employee who refused to give her name drove up to the shooting site Thursday. The woman pointed out small piles of broken bluish glass and what appeared to be a puddle of blood, mostly washed away after a day of rain.

The area is mostly wild and beautiful, she said, a plateau popular with horse riders and runners. Such a shooting, so close to home, was jarring enough, she said, but the thought that the victims were outsiders brought there to die seemed almost as upsetting.

The ranch “is the only thing within five miles of here,” she said. “It’s pitch-black at night and totally secluded … but why here? It’s not that secluded. What if someone was driving by? Why not go up into a canyon?”

No guns were found at the scene, and Alfred said he couldn’t go into detail about the ammunition that was found.

“It looks like a semiautomatic rifle may have been used, based on the evidence on the ground,” he said. “But we won’t know until the cars are taken apart and we find the bullets that were fired.”

Investigators don’t have any suspect information or a motive for the attack, Alfred said. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Twitter: @jmarantos