Following the shooting deaths of two men hours apart in Venice and Santa Monica November 3rd, police in Santa Monica have booked four suspects with murder and attempted murder, but Los Angeles police say they are still seeking suspects in the Venice homicide.
The earlier incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. in an alley in the 600 block of Westminster Avenue in Venice, where William McKillian, Jr., 19, was walking when a suspect allegedly approached him and fired multiple shots, LAPD Pacific Det. Mark Morgan said. McKillian was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, Morgan said.
Morgan said it appears that only one weapon was fired based on ballistic analysis. No arrests have been made and police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the person or persons responsible for the fatal shooting.
Police believe the possible motive is gang and/or narcotics related, Morgan said.
Later that day at 8:52 p.m., 20-year-old Santa Monica resident Richard Juarez was shot to death after he and three other individuals were approached by two suspects near Virginia Avenue Park, Santa Monica police Sgt. Dave Hunscke said. A police sergeant saw two possible suspects running from the park toward a vehicle occupied by two other men, Hunscke said.
Police arrested the two suspects in the vehicle and set up a perimeter to arrest the other two suspects who fled on foot.
The suspects, identified as Patrick Birdsong, Jr., 18, of Los Angeles; Norman Cole, 33, of Los Angeles; Sean Mermer, 29, of Lancaster; and a male juvenile; have each been booked for murder, attempted murder and promoting a criminal street gang, police said. Bail for Birdsong was set at $1.05 million, while no bail was set for the other three suspects, police said.
Police in Los Angeles and Santa Monica say they are investigating whether the two homicides are connected to each other.
Santa Monica school officials said Juarez was a graduate of Olympic High School and grief counseling was offered to students and adults who needed it. Police patrols were increased during a Santa Monica High football game at Corsair Field November 6th as a precaution, but Sgt. Jay Trisler said no incidents were reported.
McKillian, who grew up in Venice, had been involved with the life skills leadership class at Venice 2000, which works with at-risk youths, since he was 16, said his case manager, Claudia Bracho. Friends, family and community members gathered at the Oakwood Recreation Center for a candlelight vigil in his honor November 5th.
Bracho remembered McKillian as a “well mannered” young man who took his work in class very seriously.
“He was wise beyond his years and very intelligent,” Bracho recalled. “He was very polite and a true gentleman.”
Anyone with information regarding the Venice homicide is asked to contact LAPD Pacific detectives at (310) 482-6316, or (310) 482-6313. After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to (877) 527-3247.