A 2015 cold case in California has been solved after police authorities charged two men in connection with the racially motivated killing of Charles Warren Neazer, a 51-year-old Black man.
According to the Banning Police Department, William Arnold Armendariz, 24, and Samuel Vasquez, 22, noticed Neazer crossing a local street and reportedly followed him, then fatally shot him because he was Black, Patch reports.
“Neazer was a resident of the City of Banning and while walking home on November 7, 2015 at approximately at 12:20 a.m., William Armendariz Jr. and Samuel Vasquez drove up next to Neazer, who was crossing the street at 5th Street and Williams Street, exited a vehicle, produced firearms and cowardly shot Neazer to death,” the police press release states. Neazer died at the scene.
On Monday Armendariz and Vasquez were charged with murder in connection to Neazer’s death, adding to a lengthy list of prior charges for allegedly committing other violent crimes. Both men were awaiting trail for prior charges before detectives broke the Neazer case.
Police believe the suspects were involved in numerous gang-related crimes. Armendariz is charged with several counts of first-degree murder and special circumstance allegations in connection with street gang killings that occurred in 2018 and 2020.
He is being held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Vasquez faced multiple counts of attempted murder and firearm assault related to an attack in 2017 and is being held on $1M bail at the Byrd Detention Center.
The two were also convicted of auto theft (Armendariz) and felony domestic violence (Vasquez).
Local police authorities worked to rearrange schedules in the police department to allocate more time and energy to the case, after witness leads and information went cold directly after the shooting.
In 2019 the case received renewed energy after detectives began “reviewing evidence from other crime scenes and started finding similarities and evidence that was similar to other crimes that were being perpetrated.”
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the case against Armendariz and Vasquez.
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