ONTARIO — Police now suspect that the death of a 36-year-old Nyssa man is “gang related,” according to Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero in an update on the investigation on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is likely detectives will have to work harder to get cooperation from any direct witnesses,” he wrote in an email.
Romero says leads are still being followed but witnesses have not provided any definitive answers.
“We have our theories and hypothesis, but what we don’t have is completely cooperative witnesses to help substantiate the other little details we are looking into,” Romero said.
Stating that the work was incremental and that investigators “have a sense of what happened and who was probably involved,” he added that they still had to take care to be able to legally substantiate anything.
“Until we do that, we jeopardize the investigation if we take action too soon or draw a conclusion too soon,” he said.
Investigators from the Major Crimes Taskforce and Ontario Police Department have been working “non-stop on the case since July 4,” Romero said.
“We believe it will be solved,” he said.
Jerry Gomez was found dead in his vehicle in the parking lot of Franz Bakery on July 4.
While police initially thought the crime to have occurred somewhere else, with Gomez driving to where his body was found, Romero later confirmed the crime was believed to have happened at the Franz parking lot.
The body did have signs of trauma, however the cause of death is still to be determined. An autopsy was scheduled for July 8. Romero said on July 12 that he had not received an update from the coroner on the case yet, and hoped it would be available by Tuesday or Wednesday. This morning, Romero said he was still waiting for a written report.
The police chief said the only other unsolved homicide case in the Ontario area that he is aware of that the major crimes team is still working on is that of 56-year-old Billy Tucker, who was found murdered on his porch Nov. 17, 2019.
“That case has persons of interest too but no definitive info to prosecute anyone as of yet. Case is dormant but still considered active,” Romero said.