Family reacts to death of Andrea Vazquez
The suspect in Andrea Vazquez’s kidnapping and murder is reportedly “scared” after being hit with multiple felonies.
Gabriel Sean Esparza, 20, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and attempted rape in connection with the death of 19-year-old Andrea Vazquez. Mr Esparza entered a not-guilty plea when he made his first court appearance for the brutal slaying on Wednesday.
Vazquez was randomly kidnapped while on a date with her boyfriend at Penn Park in Whittier.
While Vazquez and her boyfriend were sitting in the parked car, an armed man approached them and began shooting. Vazquez’s boyfriend fled the scene and when he returned, he “discovered blood” near it and Vazquez was gone.
Vazquez’s body was found the following day in Moreno Valley.
Mr Esparza’s attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez told FOX11 that the 20-year-old was “scared.”
“Everyone in this case is in shock, and everyone who knows him can’t believe that he has been charged with this crime,” Mr Rodriguez told the network in a statement, adding that Mr Esparza is “just beginning to understand what is going on.”
What happened to Andrea Vazquez? All we know so far
The body of Andrea Vazquez, 19, was discovered in an open field in Moreno Valley, not far from where her family say her phone last pinged and they found traces of blood.
Officials say that her body was found late on Monday night and that the victim’s family were informed on Tuesday morning.
The victim was shot and kidnapped from Penn Park in Whittier after she had been sitting in a parked car with her boyfriend.
Investigators say that the boyfriend fled the gunfire and when he returned to the vehicle he “discovered blood” nearby and Ms Vazquez gone.
Whittier Police Department say that they have arrested 20-year-old Gabriel Esparza as a suspect in the case and charged him with murder and kidnapping.
So far there is no motive discovered behind the attack and officials believe she was "randomly targeted".
Vazquez was a fashion design student at Fullerton College and also worked at a mall in Cerritos.
All we know about Gabriel Esparza, the main suspect in Andrea Vazquez's death
Whitter Police Department say that they have arrested 20-year-old Gabriel Esparza as the main suspect in the case and charged him with murder and kidnapping.
Police said Mr Esparza, a Whittier resident, was arrested at his job on Monday in the city of Lakewood. He has since been booked into the Whittier Police Department and is being held without bail.
So far no motive has been discovered and officials believe Andrea Vazquez was "randomly targeted".
Investigators have recovered the weapon believed to have been used in the slaying, as well as the suspect’s vehicle, a 2013 White Toyota Tacoma truck, was also recovered.
Police say that the case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday.
WATCH: Andrea Vazquez’s family had issued desperate pleas before tragic developments on Tuesday
Before Vazquez’s body was found on Monday night, her family pleaded with the public for information regarding her whereabouts.
Andrea Vazquez's sister managed to track her location, she says
Shortly after 20-year-old Andrea Vazquez was attacked and kidnapped, her sister Edlyn managed to track her location using the Apple’s Find My iPhone feature and began following it.
However, she soon lost it a few minutes later.
“I tracked it to ... going down the 60. I started following it and the location stopped in Moreno Valley, and that’s the last known location that I have of her,” she said, according to ABC7.
Vazquez was later found dead in an open field in Moreno Valley, not far from where Edlyn said she tracked her location and the family found traces of blood.
Murder investigation will be presented to DA’s office on Wednesday
Whittier police said evidence suggested Vazquez’s kidnapping and shooting was random.
A weapon was recovered from the scene and officials are searching Mr Esparza’s car for evidence.
The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday.
Andrea Vazquez studied fashion design and was passionate about cosmetology
Vasquez was a fashion design student at Fullerton College and also worked at a mall in Cerritos.
Emily Martinez, a relative of Vazquez, told Fox News Digital before her body was found on Monday that the 19-year-old had been working with her sister Edlyn, who is a lash artist.
Ms Martinez had described Vazquez as a “beautiful person” who was liked by everyone who met her.
Police say suspect arrested in Vazquez’s death had no connection to her
Gabriel Sean Esparza, 20, has been arrested in connection with the crime.
Mr Esparza is facing charges of murder and kidnapping and is currently being held without bail.
“At this time, it appears that Andrea Vazquez and her male companion were randomly targeted by the suspect at Penn Park,” Whittier police said in a statement.
Andrea Vazquez was yanked out of a car and shot
Officials say that the body was found late on Monday night and that the victim’s family were informed on Tuesday morning.
“This is not the outcome they wanted, but they do realize Whittier Police worked around the clock,” said Moses Castillo, a former LAPD detective and advocate for the family. “Their pain and grief is beyond description.”
The victim was shot and kidnapped from Penn Park in Whittier after she had been sat in a parked car with her boyfriend.
Investigators say that the boyfriend fled the gunfire and when he returned to the vehicle he “discovered blood” near it and Ms Vasquez had gone.
‘We are just trying to process this,’ family say
“We’ve been here praying with my aunt and my uncle,” a cousin of Vazquez told FOX11 on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, we were notified of Andrea being found. We are devastated. My uncle and my aunt are heartbroken. We have good strong family support so we are just here trying to process this, it’s hard. She was our baby cousin, just 19 years old. Such a senseless act, it shouldn’t have happened”
GoFundMe for Andrea Vazquez raises over $20k
A GoFundMe for the family of Andrea Vazquez has raised over $20,000 in memory of the 19-year-old who was the victim of a random violent act.
“I am asking all our friends and family to help my family with the tragic loss of our beautiful Andrea,” the GoFundMe creator, Diana Ortiz, wrote in the description.
As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser had raised $22,055.
“We appreciate all the love, prayer, and support during this time. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”