SAN JACINTO — Hundreds attend prayer vigil for pair slain in double homicide

SAN JACINTO — Hundreds of area residents came out on a cold January night to support the families of two area residents who were gunned down earlier this week, during an emotional candlelight vigil filled with prayers and songs as well as countless tears. The vigil had been organized by family and friends of 19-year-old Lauren Lopez.

SEE RELATED: Four Hemet area residents arrested in connection with San Jacinto double homicide

Hundreds of area residents came out to show support for the families of Lauren Lopez and Patrick Powell Jr. Eddie George/Hemet News photo

Lopez, a San Jacinto resident and 22-year-old, Patrick Powell Jr., of Hemet, were found murdered inside Lopez’ bullet-riddled Chevy hatchback, at the intersection of Ramona Expressway and Warren Road, in an unincorporated area north of San Jacinto.

The shooting left the car’s rear window with multiple bullet holes in it and the front, driver’s side window was shattered. Deputies found multiple shell casings and shattered glass in the roadway, just south of the intersection.

In the wake of the news, Lopez’ devastated and grief-stricken family sought answers and hastily made plans for a prayer vigil for their lost loved one.

Local San Jacinto officials, including Mayor Pro Tem Russ Utz, City Councilman Scott Miller and others spoke during the vigil and several area pastors took turns speaking and leading the sorrow-filled group in prayers and reflection of the life Lopez had lived.

Members of regional and local media were on hand to document the vigil and interviewed many of the victim’s family and friends who were at the vigil.

Representatives from the Sheriff’s Department were also in attendance, including Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Chris Willison, who described the department’s leads in their investigation as “limited,” while imploring the public for help in solving the murders.

In spite of – or perhaps because of that plea for help – just days later, on Thursday, Jan. 11, sheriff’s officials announced the previous morning’s arrests of 19-year-old’s, Ariel Irene Savoie and Alexis Mary Garcia and 18-year-old’s Kenneth Patrick Wilson and Martel Patrick McBride.

All four are City of Hemet residents; however, sheriff’s officials stated Garcia previously resided in the unincorporated community of Valle Vista, east of Hemet.

After the Department’s plea for information at last week’s vigil, yesterday’s announcement regarding the four arrests took many from throughout the San Jacinto Valley and surrounding communities by surprise.

According to sheriff’s officials the four alleged suspects were arrested during the service of dual search warrants served at two homes within the city of Hemet.

All four were later booked into jail on suspicion of committing two counts each of murder with malice. Additionally, Savoie, Wilson and McBride were booked on suspicion of the special circumstance of kidnapping.

Savoie and Wilson are being held on $2 and $3 million bail respectively and both Garcia and McBride are being held without bail. All four alleged suspects are scheduled to be arraigned at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Friday, Jan. 12.

Eddie George/Hemet News video


Contact the writer:

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.

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