The first week of December in the city of Ventura ended on a violent note with the homicide deaths of two residents, bringing the total number to seven for the year; there were two homicides per year in 2014 and 2015.
On Sunday, Dec. 4, 27-year-old Spencer Turner was found dead by gunshot wound at 1:20 a.m. on Allesandro Drive in midtown Ventura, just off Seaward Avenue. A second man was treated for a single gunshot wound and is expected to survive. Later, at 7:30 a.m., Rito Estrada, 51, was found dead from multiple stab wounds at the bus stop on the corner of Main and Ash streets in downtown Ventura. It has been reported that the man, a suspected transient, had been dead for up to six hours before being discovered by a bus driver.
Both homicides are currently under investigation.
Ventura Police Department Cmdr. Tom Higgins says that there are currently no suspects for either homicide. As for the reason behind the increase in homicides compared to years prior, Higgins says he’s unsure that there is a reason.
“It’d be a little bit easier to say that it was all gang-related, but it’s not, so it’s hard to say,” said Higgins. “There’s no one thing that we can specify that could have caused the increase.”
Ventura’s other 2016 homicides include:
● The September death of Gregory County, 61, who was found in the driveway of his East Ventura home, dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
● Martin Fierros, 25, was found dead from multiple stab wounds in August, and the suspected perpetrator, Marco Vences, 24, was later arrested in New Mexico.
● In July, Victor Antonio Giovani Martinez, 24, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter resulting from a hit-and-run pursuit (on Highway 126) during which Martinez ran a red light and struck motorcyclist Richard Lunsford, 80, on Kimball Road in Ventura.
● In June, 58-year-old Mark Spingath was struck and killed with a hammer. Police arrested and charged 75-year-old Gavin Hobbs in connection with the crime.
Additionally, in June, 25-year-old Oxnard resident Cameron Miller was shot to death in East Ventura after a verbal altercation with four suspects ranging in age from 16 to 20. A pursuit occurred following the crime, during which the suspects’ vehicle crashed and a foot pursuit followed. The four suspects were booked and charged with murder, attempted murder for a second victim of the shooting, who survived, and with various street-gang enhancements.
In neighboring Oxnard, where the homicide rate has generally been higher, the city saw 11 in 2014, 12 in 2015 and 10 so far this year. A murder-suicide was initially thought to have been a double homicide, which would have brought the total to 11, but upon investigation, it was revealed that Saul Lemus, 47, killed Sinia Lemus, 35, before turning the gun on himself.