4 Charged in Los Angeles Cop's Murder Targeted Him Over Silver Chains on His Neck: Police

Four suspects were charged January 14, 2022, with the robbery and killing of off-duty LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos, 27, who was fatally shot the night of January 10.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced the charges January 13 after the suspects were taken into custody the day before. They could face the minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the maximum of the death penalty, as Arroyos was killed during the robbery.

The case was originally brought to District Attorney George Gascón, who previously pledged to stop seeking gang enhancements in prosecutions, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a news conference, according to KABC-TV. Villanueva, however, said the "depravity" behind Arroyos' slaying should bring harsher punishments, so detectives took the case to federal authorities.

"I believe their plan was to just prosecute a simple murder with no gun enhancements, no gang enhancements, nothing," Villanueva said at the news conference.

KCAL was provided a statement from Gascon's office that stated they supported the federal authorities taking the case.

"Thank you to the federal prosecutors, the FBI and their task force," Moses Castillo, representative for the Arroyos family, said. "For coming in, stepping in and applying the federal law which will now carry the death penalty and/or life without parole."

According to the Associated Press, Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29, known as "Lil J"; Ernesto Cisneros, 22, known as "Gonzo"; and Jesse Contreras, 34, known as "Skinny Jack" or "Flaco" were charged with violent crime in aid of racketeering after the crime was allegedly committed in connection with the Florencia 13 (F13) gang out of Los Angeles. Rios' girlfriend, Haylee Marie Grisham, 18, is also considered an associate of the gang and to have been present during Arroyos' death.

Arroyos and his girlfriend were house shopping when a pickup truck approached them and suspects exited the vehicle. Gunfire was exchanged and Arroyos was shot once, but his girlfriend was unharmed, the AP reported. Upon the arrival of LAPD officers, they transported Arroyos to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities believe the crime was in connection with the robbery of two silver chains or necklaces around Arroyos' neck, as well as his wallet, both of which are still missing.

According to prosecutors, all four were present at the crime scene and were in the truck when the crime took place. Rios said the group spotted Arroyos and his girlfriend around 9:15 p.m. when Contreras allegedly told him to "get the chain" and handed him a gun. The affidavit also states Cisneros handed Rios Arroyos' wallet, to which Rios took out $100 and proceeded to throw it on the ground.

The suspects were taken into custody Wednesday after Contreras was identified in surveillance footage by another LAPD officer who had encountered him in a traffic stop Sunday, the day before the robbery and murder.

In other footage after the incident, Contreras is seen exiting the truck and then helping an injured Cisneros out, according to court documents. A bullet had grazed Rios' ribcage during the crime and Cisneros appeared to have a broken leg.

According to an affidavit, the four had been looking to "make money" that night, Rios allegedly told investigators. Rios, Cisneros and Contreras allegedly admitted in interviews with law enforcement they are members of F13 and have gang-related tattoos.

F13 was founded in the early 1950s and is a Latino street gang based in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of South LA, where the robbery and killing took place. It is allegedly overseen by the Mexican Mafia.

The suspects were placed in jail cells with people working with law enforcement in an attempt to gain more information. Allegedly, Grisham told someone in her jail cell she had participated in a robbery earlier that day.

At the news conference Thursday that announced the charges, LAPD Chief Michel Moore lamented the robbery and slaying were "over minimal property," adding "I will tell you that those two chains and a wallet mean, I'm sure, the world to the family."

Vintage LAPD Car
Vintage Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) vehicles are displayed during a National Night Out event hosted by Melrose Action on August 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. LAPD officers lead a one mile `Light The Night Safety Walk' at the event which promoted police-community relationships. Mario Tama/Getty Images