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3 suspects facing murder charges for shooting spree that left 4 dead, 2 injured plead not guilty

Three men facing murder charges for a shooting spree that left four people dead and two others wounded in five-mile span of southeastern Los Angeles County in February pleaded not guilty on Monday. 

Timberland McKneely, Gary Garcia Jr. and Joseivan Mendoza all pled not guilty to the variety of charges they face for the spree that happened in February. They are due back in court on April 18, at which point a date will be scheduled for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial. 

McKneely, 20, faces six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, while Garcia Jr., 42, faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder and Mendoza, 18, faces two counts of murder. 

McKneely and Mendoza's charges are also connected to shootings that happened on Nov. 24, 2023, according to prosecutors. 

All three men face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged. On top of their murder charges, they also face special circumstances allegations of multiple murders and shooting from a motor vehicle and causing death, prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

They all will be jailed without bail as they await April's court date. 

Prosecutors have charged a teenager in connection with the spree as well. He is set for proceedings later this month in juvenile court. 

The shootings happened during a five-hour overnight period from Feb. 11 to 12 in Bel., Florence-Firestone, Cudahy and Huntington Park, authorities said. 

Investigators do not believe that the victims were connected or that they were specifically targeted by the gunmen. 

McKneely and Garcia were each initially charged with four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder for the shootings that left three men and a 14-year-old boy dead in Bell, Huntington Park and Cudahy in February, which authorities said appeared to be random at the time. 

The additional charges were filed against McKneely and the 17-year-old boy still awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of two men, aged 28 and 30, in Cudahy and an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County, prosecutors said without providing further details on those incidents. 

"My office is fully committed to ensuring that justice is served to all individuals responsible for these heinous murders," said District Attorney George Gascón in a statement released on Feb. 22. "I join with all Los Angeles County residents in expressing my gratitude for the hardworking members of law enforcement who continue to investigate these horrific murders."

The first series of shootings began at around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the 6500 block of Bear Avenue in Bell, when 24-year-old Kevin Parade was fatally shot. A second victim, aged 29, was also fired upon but uninjured in the shooting, authorities said. 

Shortly afterwards, another shooting happened just after midnight on Feb. 12, when a 27-year-old man was shot in the 1500 block of E. Florence Avenue in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone area. 

Two teenage boys were then targeted a short time later in the 5000 block of Live Oak Street near the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center in Cudahy. The incident left Javier Pedraza Jr., 14, dead at the scene, and a 13-year-old boy hospitalized.

The fourth shooting happened at around 2:30 a.m. in the 6300 block of Santa Fe Avenue in Huntington Park, where a homeless man who was walking down the street was gunned down and killed. He has not yet been identified. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau Captain Andrew Meyer says that department investigators responded to all four shooting scenes, and found surveillance video footage in each instance of a Honda Pilot SUV at scene around the time of the attacks. 

The vehicle was spotted the next day by San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies, leading to Garcia's arrest. He was booked on suspicion of murder at the time. 

Investigators were then able to identify McKneely as the second suspect. He was arrested by personnel with LASD's Special Enforcement Bureau on Feb. 13 in Compton and has remained behind bars since. 

The teenager, who turns 18 in April, was arrested on Feb. 15 and Mendoza was arrested on Feb. 19, jail records noted. There was no substantial information provided on how they were taken into custody. 

Capt. Meyer said that investigators believe all of the suspects are gang members, but no motive has been provided for the series of shootings. 

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