The family of a man who was allegedly beaten to death by people who pulled him from a truck that just missed striking several patrons on a sidewalk in front of a Hawthorne bar over the weekend called Monday for the arrests of those involved in his death.
Melguin Lopez Santos, 40, was a Los Angeles resident, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of his death.
Hawthorne police received several calls about 12:10 a.m. Saturday regarding a vehicle driving on a sidewalk attempting to strike several people who were standing on the sidewalk near the Rock It Sports Lounge in the 14200 block of Hawthorne Boulevard.
The motorist, later identified as Lopez Santos, had gotten into a verbal altercation earlier inside the business and was asked to leave, but returned, driving his truck onto the sidewalk where he nearly struck several patrons, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The man eventually lost control of the truck and it struck a tree.
“Surrounding patrons attempted to take the driver out of the vehicle, but the driver was able to accelerate and drove his truck into a nearby building,” according to an LASD statement. “Patrons again took the driver out of the vehicle, and a physical altercation ensued, at this time Hawthorne police arrived on scene.”
Hawthorne officers arrived within minutes of the call and found Lopez Santos on the ground suffering from apparent blunt force trauma, sheriff’s officials said. Paramedics attempted life-saving measures but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sheriff’s officials said four men were considered prime suspects, but no descriptions were released and no further information was available.
“I just want justice, I want justice for my husband,” Monica Perez told reporters on Monday. “I feel like this wasn’t no accident, he was murdered. It wasn’t a car impact, somebody dragged him. I want the truth. Somebody is covering something in this bar and we need to investigate.”
“We just want to know the story on what happened … this is not fair,” said Perez’s sister, Ilene Perez. “His children are small, missing their father. Put yourself in my sister’s situation. How would you feel if it was one of your family members that’s going through this?”
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were assisting Hawthorne police with the investigation.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.