24-hours after shooting kills 1, wounds another, suspect found parked at public safety training center
RIVERSIDE — Sheriff’s personnel assigned to the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center sprang into action after a shooting was reported near the training facility’s south entrance, north of Nandina Avenue and Alexander Street. Although sheriff’s officials helped treat the shooting victim – who is expected to survive – another victim reportedly died from gunshot wounds at a home about two and a half miles southeast of the training facility.
A man was later arrested and charged in the deadly incident; however, officials have not specified how the two shootings were related, where the shootings occurred, or how they later connected the alleged suspect to the shootings.
24-hours after their investigation began, sheriff’s officials located a “suspicious vehicle” parked off a two lane road on the training center’s property. While checking the vehicle, described by witnesses as a white pickup truck, deputies located 32-year-old, Efrain Lopez, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Walter Mendez later explained.
Lopez was later arrested and booked into Larry D. Smith Correctional in Banning on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. Online jail records list the alleged shooter’s name as Efren Lopez-Cortez and Superior Court records list his name as Effrain Lopez.
The murder and shooting investigation began shortly after 6 p.m., when deputies assigned to the Riverside Sheriff’s Perris Station and other emergency first responders were dispatched to the southern entrance of the training center after receiving reports of an “assault with a deadly weapon,” Mendez explained. Both the training facility’s shooting range and Equestrian Center are located just inside the facility’s south entrance.
Officials have not yet specified if the shooting victim was located on the training center’s 400-acre property or outside the training facility, which is run by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. The training center provides law enforcement, correctional, fire, EMS, and Homeland Security-related public safety training courses and is located in a semi-rural, unincorporated area of Riverside, east of Woodcrest and between Orangecrest and Mead Valley.
As the shooting investigation was getting underway, deputies responded to a home on the 21900 block of Bailly St., northeast of Markham and Carol Streets, in Mead Valley.
Although Mendez did not disclose what led them to the home he explained, “A second adult male victim was found deceased at (the) residence.” Officials have not publicly identified the victim, pending further investigation and notification of the man’s family.
Based on the circumstances, investigators from the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit and Perris Station responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.
In the Sheriff’s original press release written shortly after the homicide investigation began, Mendez advised officials had “no suspect information available,” and requested the public’s help with information regarding the deadly incident.
As the investigation continued the following day, “a suspicious vehicle was located within the Ben Clark Training Center,” Mendez explained in a follow-up press release the day after the murder investigation began.
Deputies reportedly discovered Lopez inside the pickup truck and determined he was on probation for a previous assault with a deadly weapon conviction. Lopez was detained for further investigation.
It was not immediately known if Lopez had been parked on the training center’s property since the two shootings occurred the previous evening or how long he had been parked at the location.
During their investigation, officials determined Lopez was the person alleged to have shot the two men. Jail records indicated Lopez was arrested at 6 p.m., May 11.
Although officials searched the pickup truck Lopez was found in, they have not specified if anything related to the shootings and murder was found or how investigators connected Lopez to the fatal incident.
Riverside County Superior Court Records indicate Lopez was arrested in 2008 and charged with domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury – both felonies.
After failing to a show up in court, authorities issued a fugitive warrant for Lopez’ arrest. Nine years later – in 2017 – Lopez was located and arrested based on that warrant and he was brought to trial on his original charges later that year.
As his trial was approaching, Lopez accepted a plea deal offered by the DA’s office and later pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
Lopez was placed on three years’ probation, sentenced to 26 days in a Sheriff’s work-release program, ordered to serve 20 days of community service, and ordered to enroll in a domestic violence counseling program.
He was also ordered to pay nearly $2,000 in restitution to the victim, as well as thousands in court fines and fees, and ordered to have no further contact with the victim in the case.
Court records indicate Lopez has never made a single payment to the victim or court and failed to complete his court-ordered work-release and domestic violence programs.
Lopez remains in custody and is being held without bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned at Riverside’s Hall Of Justice, May 16.
Anyone with information regarding this incident and are encouraged to please call Investigator Alfaro of the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit at (760) 393-3528. Callers can refer to incident file number PC181300054 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.
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Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta 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. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s 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 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.