A 22-year-old man with ties to a San Pedro gang has been arrested on suspicion of shooting at a group of family members and friends at Royal Palms Beach Park, injuring five, including himself, authorities said on Wednesday, March 22.
Jose Ortega was arrested in Orange County on March 9, five days after the shooting, Los Angeles police Capt. Brent McGuyre said at a press conference.
“We determined that during the altercation, the suspect was struck by one of the rounds potentially from his own handgun,” McGuyre said.
Ortega got to a hospital on his own or with the help of another, McGuyre said. Witness statements and surveillance cameras recently installed by the county at the beach helped to identifying Ortega as the suspect, police said.
A firearm was found at the scene. Ballistics tests were ongoing to determine if that was the weapon that was used. McGuyre said he did not know whether that firearm was legal or a ghost gun.
Ortega was booked into jail on four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm at an inhabited vehicle, police said. He was charged with those counts and was being held on a bail amount of more than $4 million.
He also faces a carjacking count and three attempted carjacking counts from April 2021, inmate records show.
When asked why the Los Angeles Police Department waited a dozen days after the suspect’s arrest to announce it, the captain it was to protect the investigation.
“There were aspects of the investigation that would have been harmed if we announced early,” McGuyre said. “While the investigation is still ongoing, we felt the investigation was at a point where we could announce without significantly impacting the investigation.
“There was a significant amount of community concern surrounding this event, which is why we announced today,” he said. “Otherwise, we may have held off until the full investigation had been completed.”
Related: Royal Palms Beach to close early on weekends in wake of shooting
About 5:45 p.m. on March 4, officers flocked to the beach park, in the 1800 block of West Paseo Del Mar, after the shooting.
Among those at the park were two group: One of family members and friends, and another with ties to the San Pedro gang, McGuyre said. An argument broke out — over what was not revealed — which led to a fistfight and the suspect pulling out a gun and firing, the captain said. There has been no indication that the groups knew each other.
A man attempted to wrestle the gun away from Ortega and was shot, said Los Angeles Councilman Tim McOsker, who also spoke at the press conference. When the man’s son came to his aid, he was also shot. The two other injured victims were either other family members or friends, McGuyre said; he was unsure of their relationships.
Related: San Pedro beach shooting that injured 5 highlights safety concerns
The gunman and at least one other person fled in a silver car, police have said.
The father was still in the hospital in critical condition, the captain said. The three other victims and the suspect have been released from medical care.
Officials have said the shooting occurred during an unpermitted concert shortly before security guards were scheduled to arrive for the nightly patrol.
Because of the shooting, the park’s closing time has been bumped up to 4:30 p.m. from dusk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
How detectives found Ortega in Orange County, where he lives, was not disclosed.