LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — An Oklahoma man charged in the murders of a young mother and her 4-year-old daughter in Southern California hid behind a sign before opening fire on the family with a shotgun, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office charged Brandon Colbert, 22, of Tulsa, with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder as well as special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders in the Aug. 6 shooting.
Colbert was expected to be arraigned Tuesday. He was arrested Sunday after being matched to DNA submitted by detectives. Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said no motive has been established in the case that has startled residents in the coastal city 22 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. A $40,000 reward previously offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction remains.
"We haven't ruled out the possibility that others may be involved in this horrific crime," Luna said Monday.
Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter, Jennabel Anaya, had just parked their car and were walking back to their apartment with the child's father when they were shot, police said. Mancera was pronounced dead the scene. Anaya was transported in critical condition to a hospital and died early the next morning. Mancera's boyfriend was also shot at but not injured.
The girl's father told investigators he did not recognize the shooter.
Detectives reviewed countless hours of surveillance video while forensic crime scene evidence was being processed, Luna said. In September, authorities announced they had identified a person of interest in surveillance video from a local business. In early October, detectives upgraded that individual to a suspect in the case and said they were able to track him to the scene.
Police asked the public to help identify the man and followed up on every tip, but none led to a match, Luna said.
Then, on Oct. 31, the county crime lab notified detectives that the DNA recovered was positively linked to Colbert.
"An investigation of this magnitude that began with no leads is very difficult to work," Luna said. "Sometimes a case like this can take years to solve. So I'm extremely proud of our police department."
Colbert left Tulsa on a Greyhound bus Aug. 3 and arrived in Los Angeles the following day, Luna said. He was arrested on Aug. 27 by the Los Angeles Police Department in connection with driving a stolen vehicle and was still in custody when he was identified as a suspect in the Long Beach slayings.
It was not immediately clear whether Colbert had obtained an attorney. Reached by telephone Monday, Yolanda Colbert, who identified herself as the suspect's mother, said, "My son is innocent. That's all I want to say."
If convicted Colbert faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole.