(Sept. 27, 2006) -- In a solemn news conference at LBPD HQ on Wednesday (Sept. 27), LB Police Chief Anthony Batts announced that two LB men are now in custody, charged with the murder of L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Maria Rosa, fatally shot outside a friend's residence in the 2900 block of Eucalyptus Ave. on March 28.
Chief Batts said murder charges were filed earlier in the day afainst suspects Frank Gonzales, 26, and Justin Ashley Flint, 20 (LBPD-released photos, left).
Flanked by LBPD command staff, LBPD Detectives who cracked the case, a Deputy D.A. who will likely prosecute it -- and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca -- Chief Batts declared, "I made a promise to the family and friends of Deputy Maria Rosa, as well as the murderers -- we would never stop pursuing the killers of her on that fateful day. Today, we are delivering on that promise."
In April, Chief Batts told the nationally-broadcast America's Most Wanted: "I have a very clear message to the assassins who participated in this. We will not stop, we will not give up, until we track you down.":
Murder charges were filed against the pair on the morning of Sept. 27...and they were arraigned that afternoon.
Photo source: LBPD
|Early in the investigation, LBPD recovered two bicycles they believe were used by the killers.
Meanwhile, resourceful LBPD Detectives found surveillance video taken at a nearby bank, showing chilling images of the suspects on bikes.
Chief Batts indicated that the suspects were in custody on unrelated gun and robbery charges during the investigaton..."probably within two weeks of the murder." Tips did come in...and Chief Batts said "our Homicide Detectives received information" that the two suspects were responsible.
"In addition to evidence we recovered at the crime scene, more evidence was obtained pointing to Gonzales and Flint, and I'm unable to elaborate further at this time because the investigation is still ongoing," Chief Batts said.
He indicated that two women, Celina Gonzales, 21, of LB and Jessia Rowan [sp], 25, of L.A. are also being charged with conspiracy, allegedly obstructing justice by providing alibis for the two male suspects that police believe were false.
Chief Batts said, "Let this be a strong lesson to some that when you do a murder like this in this city, we will hunt you down. Justice will be served."
Sheriff Baca said he'd sworn-in Deputy Rosa...and commented, "There is no justice in murder. There's only accountability...Maria Rosa had a family, who were personal to her, and she had also an enduring and continuing family from those of us in law enforcement."
Sheriff Baca commended LBPD's lead Detectives and LBPD as a whole for tenaciously pursuing the case.
LBReport.com posts extended portions of the news conference below:
Chief Batts: ...This case touches me deeply..because the victim of this crime could have been any woman going to work in the early morning hours.
...I made a promise to the family and friends of Deputy Maria Rosa, as well as the murderers -- we would never stop pursuing the killers of her on that fateful day. Today, we are delivering on that promise.
...[Deputy Rosa] was accosted, shot and killed during what we believe to be a robbery attempt. We reached out to the community and asked for help in identifying the person or persons responsible for this crime.
Tips did come in. Our Homicide Detectives received information that 26 year old Frank Gonzales and 20 year old Justin Ashley Flint, both from Long Beach, were responsible...In addition to evidence we recovered at the crime scene, more evidence was obtained pointing to Gonzales and Flint, and I'm unable to elaborate further at this time because the investigation is still ongoing.
Both suspects were in custody on unrelated gun and robbery charges during our investigation.
This morning, murder charges were presented and filed upon by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
During the course of this investigation, interviews with both suspects, family and friends were conducted, Frank Golzales' sister and his girlfriend provided what we believe to be false alibis of their whereabouts...and They are identified as 21 year old Celina Gonzales of Long Beach, 25 year old Jessia Rowan [sp] of Los Angeles and conspiracy charges to obstruct justice have also been filed on them.
Let this be a strong lesson to some that when you do a murder like this in this city, we will hunt you down. Justice will be served.
We believe that suspects Gonzales and Flint may be responsible for other crimes, and if there are any other citizens out there that recognize them, please give us a call...
Before I turn this over to Sheriff Baca, I'd like to take a moment to thank his highly skilled Homicide Bureau for their assistance in various facets of assisting us in following-up on leads, to America's Most Wanted for putting this information out, and to those citizens who stood up and participated...
Sheriff Lee Baca:...Maria Rosa was a young woman whom I was fortunate to swear into her office as a Deputy, and she in turn took to this profession with great enthusiasm, great personality and great heart...This woman's promise was taken away by the suspects that we've arrested today...
There are so many people to thank, and I'll start with the lead three Detectives of the Long Beach Police Department: Bryan McMahon, Patrick O'Dowd and Dennis Robbins...And I would like to say to them, thank you on behalf of all the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. for your outstanding leadership, your tenacity, and in the vernacular of our own Homicide Bureau, your ability to be bulldogs at a time when clues were not so abundant and a lot of work had to be done to get started in solving this case.
The Sheriff's Homicide Bureau also has Detectives who are relentless in what they do. Mark Lillienfield [sp], Bob Retzlaf [sp] and Phil Guzman [we apologize for any misspellings from our acoustical transcription], all three were companion partners to Detectives from the Long Beach Police Dept...
There is no justice in murder. There's only accountability. Deputy Maria Rosa will not come back...Maria Rosa had a family, who were personal to her, and she had also an enduring and continuing family from those of us in law enforcement. The men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. are grateful to the Long Beach Police Dept. for their tenacity, their willingness to stay with a tough investigation and the solution of this case in the arrest of these suspects..
[Reporters Q & A]
Q: What was the break in the case?...
Chief Batts: We don't want to go into too much detail, but we got a tip or clue that led us to the information that we followed-up on.
Q:: Did the $125,000 reward help...? [we believe the total sum was higher]
Chief Batts: I think it was a potential. Those who are involved or who provided information, we have informed them of how to go about collecting that [reward] if they choose to do so...
Q; Anything about a motive?
Chief Batts: It was most likely what we believe to be a robbery, a street robbery.
Q: [refers to security cam photo of two individuals on bikes, previously released] Can you tell us about the photo [inaudible]
Chief Batts: ...[The photo] is from a bank that is three blocks south of where the murder actually occurred, and the bank cameras got them right around the area just prior to the unfortunate murder.
Q:: How did the photo help? Bicycles, anything?
Chief Batts: The bicycles, the descriptions all went on America's Most Wanted...We did get clues and leads back, and we followed-up on some of those clues and leads...
Q: Have the suspects been cooperative in any way?
Chief Batts: The suspects have provided information that we're following-up on and validating and so have others.
Q: Chief, were the suspects in custody on other suspicion of something else...?
Chief Batts: The suspects were in custody probably within two weeks of the murder...gun charges and robbery...
Q:: How far back did you know it might be them, or that it was them?
Chief Batts: Some time early in the case.
Q: March? April?
CHief Batts: Some time early in the case.