Authorities are seeking a second suspect in the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Xavier Chavarin in El Sereno last week, Los Angeles police said Thursday.
Suspect David Zapata, 32 — who was arrested Wednesday after a standoff with law enforcement at a home in Alhambra — drove away from the crime scene in a Honda CR-V, police said. Another man was in the passenger, seat, authorities said.
Police declined to give details on the possible accomplice at the Thursday news conference, saying they were “actively pursuing” the man.
“There appears to be another individual, a suspect that [Zapata] drove away with in the first incident. We are looking into that. That part of the investigation is still ongoing,” said LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbet.
Brandishing a large knife, Zapata walked up behind Chavarin outside the King Torta restaurant on Valley Boulevard in El Sereno about 3:55 p.m. on March 3 and repeatedly stabbed the teenager in the back, police said. The victim, a senior at nearby Woodrow Wilson High School, stumbled into the restaurant and collapsed onto the dining room floor, where he died.
Zapata had no connection to Chavarin, police said Thursday.
“As far as we know there was absolutely no relationship” between them, said Rabbet.
Zapata sped off in the Honda but struck again five hours later, police said, stabbing a man named Daniel Villalobos outside a liquor store about 1.5 miles away on Valley Boulevard. Villalobos was released from the hospital in critical but stable condition, police said.
Surveillance footage from the two establishments where the crimes occurred helped police identify Zapata, according to Rabbet. The lieutenant said that “several individuals” reached out to the LAPD to identify Zapata as the man in the footage.
Zapata struggled with mental health issues and drug problems, police and his ex-girlfriend said.
“For a long time I would say … ‘Something is wrong with David. He doesn’t seem right,’ ” said Zapata’s ex-girlfriend, Claudia Montes, who shares a child with the accused killer.