Andres Rodriguez: Suspect allegedly killed Bryant at end of three-day ‘crime spree’
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: September 18, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
An Oxnard gang member will make another court appearance Wednesday after his arraignment was delayed for charges related to a July “crime spree” that culminated in the shooting death of a Santa Paula woman.
Andres Rene Rodriguez, 28, appeared in court Friday, but no plea was entered and his arraignment was postponed until September 18. Rodriguez’s bail was raised to $3.1 million dollars, a token hold for the alleged killer because he cannot be released due to his special status as a parolee.
Rodriguez is accused of shooting Angela Bryant, 33, on July 17 in a home in the 600 block of Ojai Road in Santa Paula. She was taken to Ventura County Medical Center, where she died of a gunshot wound to the head. The owner of the home found her but is not a suspect.
Rodriguez was arrested by Santa Paula Police Wednesday at the Mexican border. The following day his companion, 35-year-old Melissa Salazar of Santa Paula, was also arrested at the border in connection with the homicide, but police determined she played no role in the slaying.
Lt. Ishmael Cordero said last week Salazar was not inside the home when Bryant was shot, but outside in a parked vehicle. Salazar told investigators she heard a gunshot inside the house, but was unaware that anyone was injured. When Rodriguez exited the house they left the area.
Based on her statements, Salazar had no knowledge Bryant had been left for dead and she has not been charged with anything related to the homicide, although the case will be reviewed by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. Cordero said Salazar’s statements “corroborate with what other witnesses,” several people who were in or around the house when Bryant was killed, “told us.”
Salazar was arrested on suspicion of narcotics and probation violations. She also had two outstanding warrants for her arrest, one each issued by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Ventura Police.
Rodriguez also was arrested in connection with a June nonfatal shooting in Oxnard. Authorities on September 12 charged Rodriguez with a series of crimes between July 15 and July 17 that started with a dispute over property and culminated in the death of Bryant, officials said.
Rodriguez in 2004 spent time in state prison in Lancaster for robbery, false imprisonment and possession of a controlled substance. Paroled in 2007, he committed a new crime and returned to prison in 2009 for assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Rodriguez was released back to Ventura County in January 2012 and put under probation supervision. According to Oxnard Police, he was released from custody in April under the Post Release Offender Program.
From July 15 through July 17 in Santa Paula Rodriguez is accused of Bryant’s homicide, attempted homicide involving a second victim, and kidnapping and robbery involving a third victim, according to the District Attorney’s Office. All three victims were acquaintances of Rodriguez, officials said.
“Throughout the course of this crime spree,” stated Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox, “Rodriguez is alleged to have personally used a Mac11, 9mm pistol and was seen wearing body armor.” Fox’s written statement also noted “a tremendous team effort and first-rate investigation by major crimes detectives from the Santa Paula Police Department, the Oxnard Police Department, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Marshal’s Office led to the identification and apprehension of Rodriguez.”
Law enforcement agencies throughout Ventura County had scrambled on several occasions when they received tips that Rodriguez was in the area, including at a Camarillo drug store where someone reported they recognized the fugitive’s distinctive Oxnard gang tattoo on his bald head. Cordero said while on the run Rodriguez let his hair grow to cover the tattoo in an attempt to disguise himself.
Rodriguez is also set to appear in court in connection with an attempted murder case in Oxnard, where he is charged with shooting a man who survived. He also faces other charges, including being a felon in possession of a gun.
Finally, Rodriguez is also due back in court on October 10 in connection with the 2009 felony assault case in which he was convicted and released early from prison under the state’s realignment program.