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Gunman in restaurant standoff was under investigation in murder case

Police put up yellow tape outside Chris' & Pitt's barbecue restaurant in Downey.

Police put up yellow tape outside Chris’ & Pitt’s barbecue restaurant in Downey.

(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

A gunman killed by sheriff’s deputies last week as he held hostages inside a Downey BBQ restaurant had been named a person of interest in a murder case, authorities said.

Eddie Tapia, 41, was shot by deputies Sept. 10 after an hours-long chase that started when an L.A. County Sheriff’s helicopter saw him carjack a driver at gunpoint.

After Tapia drove through eight cities, CHP officers performed a PIT maneuver in Downey outside Chris’ & Pitt’s restaurant, causing him to crash. Tapia ran from the car, fired at least one shot into the air and entered the restaurant. He was killed during the restaurant standoff.

Now sheriff’s investigators say Tapia was the subject of investigation in connection with the death of 46-year-old Rocio Vasquez.

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The woman’s body was found 6:46 a.m. Aug. 8 in a bedroom at a burned home in the 700 block of Brady Avenue in East Los Angeles.

Authorities initially believed the fire was accidental.

But an autopsy showed Vasquez died from a gunshot wound, not from the fire, sheriff’s officials said. They said it appears Vasquez was shot before the fire was set inside the home.

Tapia was an associate of Vasquez and often visited her home, deputies said. Detectives had been wanting to talk to him about the murder case but never got the chance.

Sheriff’s officials said detectives are still investigating Vasquez’s death and hoping to talk to anyone who knew her.

Anyone with information about Vasquez is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

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