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Downey shooting: Suspect a parolee with gang ties, records show

October 29, 2012 | 12:15 pm

A parolee arrested on suspicion of murder in a Downey shooting rampage that left three people dead and two injured is a gang member with a history of robberies, law enforcement records show.

Jade Douglas Harris, 30, arrested Friday morning in connection with the case, is expected to be charged Monday and appear in a Downey courtroom, Downey police Lt. Dean Milligan said.

Reports from surviving eyewitnesses and "independent evidence" gathered by detectives link Harris to last Wednesday's slayings, Milligan said.

While relatives of those killed at a fire safety business and a private home on Cleta Street have said the suspect killed the three to steal a 2010 Chevy Camaro, Milligan said the department will not publicly state the motive for the shootings.

"We are trying to make sense of these events," he said, adding that evidence allegedly shows Harris was the shooter.

According to law enforcement records reviewed by The Times, Harris, from South Los Angeles, is unemployed, a member of the Rollin 40s Crips and on parole for second-degree robbery.

He was previously detained for carrying a firearm in a car and making criminals threats, according to records. Harris was released this past summer and placed on parole, the records indicate.

Harris was taken into custody Thursday after an attempt was made to retrieve a vehicle left near the Cleta Street crime scenes. The vehicle was reported stolen.

Following his detention by Downey police, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation placed a parole hold on him Friday, meaning that even if prosecutors do not file charges Monday, he will remain behind bars.

Harris was formally booked Friday morning after being taken into custody and questioned the previous day, authorities said.

A spokeswoman for the targeted family, Martha Zerehi, described the incident as a violent car robbery that began when the gunman responded to a Craigslist ad for a Chevrolet Camaro. He arrived at the family's business, United States Fire Protection Services, on Cleta Street in Downey about 11 a.m. Wednesday. He was allowed to enter through the front door, which is usually kept locked, relatives said. The man drew a handgun and demanded the car, Zerehi said.

He allegedly forced Josimar Rojas, a male worker, to tie up the two women, one of whom was the mother of the firm's owners, Robert and Antonio Salinas. The gunman was told that the car was not at the business but down the street at the family home.

At some point, Susana Perez, another family member, walked in with her 13-year-old son, whom she had picked up early from school for a dental appointment. The suspect shot and killed two employees, Rojas, 26, of Downey, and Irene Cardenas, 35, of Cudahy.

Maria Fuentes, 52, a member of the Salinas family, was shot in the face and hand and was hospitalized in serious condition, a family attorney said.

Perez and her son then were ordered to drive the gunman to the home. Once there, Zerehi said, the suspect held a gun to the boy's head and threatened to kill him.

"Do you know how easy it is to kill you right now?" the gunman asked, according to Zerehi.

Perez tried to push the gun away to save her son but was shot and killed, she said. Before fleeing in the Camaro, the suspect turned and shot the boy, who pretended he was dead, Zerehi said.

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— Richard Winton and Wesley Lowery

Follow Richard Winton (@LACrimes) on Twitter and Google+

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