UPDATED: MORENO VALLEY: Brothers, 20 and 17, killed in double shooting outside restaurant
UPDATED: With Elijah “Eli” Ascencio’s correct age of 20.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Mar. 8, 10:45 With OC Hawk News photos and additional details
MORENO VALLEY — Two brothers, including a 17-year-old minor, were murdered in the parking lot of a Moreno Valley fast food restaurant last night, Wednesday, Mar 7. The brazen double homicide happened outside a Jack In The Box in the area of Old Lake Drive and Sunny Mead Ranch Parkway, according to sheriff’s officials investigating the murders.
According to those who knew the victims – identified online by friends and family members as 17-year-old Jeremiah “Lil JJ,” and 20-year-old Elijah “Eli” Ascencio – both were Moreno Valley residents and the pair previously attended Canyon Springs High School, about a block from the restaurant where they were murdered.
Although the brothers had attended CSHS and were teammates for a while on the school’s football team, some media outlets have reported that Elijah graduated two years ago and Jeremiah had recently left the school and had since been home schooled.
Emergency first responders were dispatched to the Lakeshore Villa Shopping Center about 8:20 p.m., after emergency dispatchers received multiple 911 calls reporting the deadly shooting, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Brosche explained as the investigation was getting underway.
When officials arrived, “they found one adult male and one 17-year-old male deceased at the scene,” said Brosche.
Multiple witnesses to the shooting later told officials investigating the double homicide they had seen the two victims standing next to or sitting inside a silver Nissan sedan that was parked in a corner of the parking lot. Some witnesses reported seeing other people at or near the vehicle shortly before the shooting.
One witness later told ABC7 News he heard “at least six to seven shots” ring out in the parking lot before seeing one of the two victims run towards the safety of the restaurant, where he collapsed and died next to a pillar just outside the businesses entrance.
Blood stains and medical debris left outside the restaurant were later cleaned up and soon replaced by candles, flowers and messages left for the two victims.
Deputies assigned to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Moreno Valley Police Station began investigating the fatal shooting and summoned investigators from Moreno Valley PD and the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit, who responded to the location and assumed the investigation, according to Brosche.
Sgeriff’s officials eventually brought a mobile command center to the scene and members of the Sheriff’s Forensic Services Bureau responded to assist with the ongoing investigation. Members of the Sheriff’s Chaplain’s Services also were summoned to the location to assist with comforting grieving family and friends of the victims.
No description of the suspects or a possible getaway vehicle have been provided by officials; however, employees from a nearby Shell Station as well as other witnesses reported seeing two males running away after the shooting and officials are still working to determine if the pair spotted running from the scene were involved in or running away from the shooting.
Saying, “At this point we are literally asking for the public’s help in helping us solve this crime,” Riverside Sheriff’s spokesperson Deputy Mike Vasquez explained from the scene, “We don’t have much info about the suspects (but) we’re looking into video surveillance and reviewing witness statements.”
The victim’s Nissan was later towed from the scene as evidence in the sheriff’s ongoing investigation. As officials towed away the victim’s car, at least one bullet hole could be seen on the driver’s side of the sedan’s hood and both the driver’s side windows had been covered and sealed to preserve evidence within the vehicle.
The deadly shooting has left many area residents fearful and an undated photograph of the victims that began circulating online only fed speculation about the shooting and possible motives for the deadly attack.
The photo, which has been shown by several media outlets shows the pair and another unidentified man flashing gang signs and in the photo, the younger of the brothers appears to have a handgun tucked into in his right front pocket.
In spite of the photos or online rumors and speculation, those who knew the brothers have said neither victim was involved in gangs or drugs.
The sheriff’s investigation is ongoing and officials have said that no further information will be released at this time.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Detective Mullins with the Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777 or Detective Vanderhoof with the Moreno Valley Police Department at (951) 486-6700. Callers can refer to incident file number MV180660495 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.
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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.