An El Salvadorian man suspected of beating at least three people to death with a baseball bat in LA entered the country illegally and has been deported seven times, it emerged on Tuesday.
Ramon Escobar, 47, was allowed to stay in the US after appealing his latest immigration conviction in 2016 and released under a supervision order.
He was arrested on Monday on suspicion of attacking seven people in LA with a baseball bat, three of whom died.
He’s also suspected in the disappearance of his aunt and uncle in Texas.
On Tuesday ICE revealed that he was first ordered out of the US in 1988 but it took until 1997 to deport him while he served a prison sentence for burglary.
He was subsequently deported five more times after entering the country illegally between 1997 and 2011.
Escobar spent five years in prison for robbery starting in the mid-1990 and has arrests for vehicle burglary, trespassing, failure to stop, public intoxication and two assaults, most recently in November 2017.
He was caught entering the US again but allowed to stay under a supervision order in 2016 after appealing, according to ICE.
Investigators believe Escobar began attacking the men at random on Sept. 8, shortly after he arrived in California from Houston following the disappearance of his uncle and aunt.
Detectives have seized a wooden baseball bat and bolt cutters that they believe were used to bludgeon men as they lay sleeping on the beach or on the street in Los Angeles and suburban Santa Monica, police said. All but one of the men was homeless.
Escobar could be charged Wednesday with murder and attempted murder in connection with a string of attacks.
He is being held without bail but U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials have filed a detainer seeking to take him into custody if he is released, the agency said.
LA police captain Bill Hayes called Escobar a ‘violent predator’ and said investigators believe he drove to California from Houston after his relatives disappeared and attacked the men in Los Angeles and suburban Santa Monica beginning Sept. 8.
Escobar was arrested Monday after a man sitting on a sidewalk was beaten unconscious and robbed of some of his possessions, Santa Monica police said. That victim remains in coma.
Lt. Saul Rodriguez says investigators are trying to determine whether Escobar might also be the culprit who beat two homeless men in the coastal city earlier this month and killed another man, fisherman Steven Ray Cruze Jr, 39, who was found dead under the pier last week.
Police initially described Cruze as homeless, but his family said he was a deck hand on sportfishing and whaling boats and would sometime sleep under the Santa Monica Pier so he could be closer to work after late-night fishing.
‘He called his girlfriend at midnight. He said he was going to fish, then sleep, and go to work in the morning,’ his aunt Cathy Smith told NBC Bay Area.
Cruze is survived by his 12-year-old son, James, who wrote of his slain father in the description of a GoFundMe campaign that he was ‘the best daddy.’
Police in Los Angeles say they suspect Escobar used a baseball bat to batter three homeless men as they slept on downtown streets before dawn on September 16. Two of the victims, ages 20 and 59, later died of their injuries.
The third victim was hospitalized in critical condition.
The attacker was caught on surveillance video in downtown Los Angeles rifling through trash cans, leading police to believe that he, too, was homeless.
Detectives pointed out that the man in the footage, dressed in shorts, sneakers and a baseball cap, was extremely bow-legged.
Police in Houston reported that Escobar is also a person of interest in the disappearance of his mother, Dinora Escobar, and his uncle, Rogelio Escobar.
Rogelio, 65, was last seen on August 26 at his home in Houston. There have been no sightings of him for the past month.
His sister, 60-year-old Dinora, went missing two days later after going over to her brother’s home to look for him.
Police later found her 2007 Chevy Uplander minivan torched on a Galveston beach.
‘To lose a mom is like… it’s the worst feeling in the world, so it’s just really hard, and we just gotta keep praying and searching,’ Dinora’s other son, Walter Salamanca, told Fox 26 in early September.
The woman has four children and her brother has two sons.
Relatives in Texas told ABC7 they have not heard from Ramon since the disappearances but said he stopped taking medication for an unspecified mental illness around that time.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 2nd, 2018