Man Ordered to Stand Trial in Santa Monica Pier Violence

Man Ordered to Stand Trial in Santa Monica Pier Violence
From a Times Staff Writer

March 20 2002

An alleged gang member has been ordered to stand trial on charges that include taking 15 people hostage at Santa Monica Pier and wounding three police officers in 2000.

Oswaldo Amezcua, 26, along with co-defendant Joseph Flores, 31, was also ordered to stand trial on murder charges in three killings that led up to the all-night standoff.

Prosecutors said Flores and Amezcua killed three people in June 2000. On July 3, police tracked the two suspects to the Santa Monica Pier and detained Flores, but Amezcua fled down the pier and barricaded himself in the arcade, using tourists as shields, prosecutors said. The hostage crisis ended after a five-hour siege early on July 4 when Amezcua surrendered and released his captives.

Shackled and chained to their chairs during the four-day preliminary hearing, the two men acted as their own attorneys, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Darren Levine.

Levine said his office may seek the death penalty in the case. He said the defendants have shown no remorse and at times laughed at witnesses during the preliminary hearing.

The first of the three murder victims was a fellow gang member who was shot 14 times as he answered the door at his home in Victorville, Levine said. Next to die was George Flores–no relation to defendant Joseph Flores–who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baldwin Park that left another person wounded. A few hours later, Levine said, the two killed fellow gang member Luis Reyes.

They are scheduled to be arraigned April 2.

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