Published November 20, 2015
LOS ANGELES -- A young father deliberately slammed his pickup truck into the bedroom of his newborn daughter and her teen mother, killing both before witnesses rushed to free them from furniture and debris, police said Monday.
The deadly crash came after Eduardo Villarreal, 21, got into an argument with the mother Sunday over custody of their 10-day-old baby at a family gathering, police said.
Villarreal grabbed the infant and ran down a street before another family member caught up to him and persuaded Villarreal to give her back.
He said he was going to harm himself and the girl, then "he took off to get his mind right," police Detective Joe Rios said.
Authorities said Villarreal returned moments later and aimed his speeding Cadillac Escalade at the house, hopped a curb and plowed into the bedroom.
"He intentionally drove the vehicle into the house," Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.
Police did not release the names of the victims, but Eduardo Bonilla, the uncle of the young mother, identified her as Trudy Bonilla and the 10-day-old baby as Naomi. The uncle said he had attended the family reunion and heard the argument involving Villarreal.
"He was saying he was going to kill the daughter and the mom," Eduardo Bonilla said while standing in a yard near the crash site. "They had argued before, but nothing like that."
After the crash, Villarreal told investigators he had meant to commit suicide but not hurt anyone else, Rios said. Police expected to book Villareal on murder charges later Monday.
Trudy Bonilla's other child, a 3-year-old who is unrelated to the driver, was in the room during the crash but was uninjured, the uncle said.
Rios said Villarreal had spent the day with the mother and child, and they had gone shopping for baby formula and other items. The suspect has no history of mental illness or prior police contacts, and there was no preliminary indication that he had been drinking.
"He has accepted responsibility for his actions," police Detective Ron Chavarria said.
Two teenage witnesses heading home from a Halloween party said they ran to help after seeing the Escalade speed down the street then open up an 8-foot hole in the wall of the residence about 11:45 p.m Sunday.
Teodore Romo said he tried to pull furniture off the victims, while his sister Katie went to check on the driver. She said he seemed to be in shock and just kept repeating, "Where's my daughter? Where's my daughter?"
More than half the truck ended up in the bedroom where the victims were sleeping.
A jagged hole remained in the wall after the truck was removed, with foam insulation, piping and a broken air conditioner dangling from its edges. There were no skid marks outside the house.
A stroller lay on its side in front of the sand-colored stucco house along with toy cars, as shocked family members talked with each other in the next door neighbor's front yard.
Eduardo Bonilla said his niece was a happy mother who had just finished high school and wanted to go to college. The couple had dated for about a year and a half before breaking up three months ago, he said.
He said eight people lived in the home, which was deemed temporarily uninhabitable but expected to be fixed. He said 14 people attended the reunion on Halloween, but the only one hurt besides the woman and baby was a 17-year-old who was sent to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Ortega said there were no records of previous calls to the home in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.