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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Police May Have CA Tow Truck Driver's Killer

Here's the story from the Merced Sun-Star:

Merced police say they have arrested the man believed responsible for killing a 41-year-old tow truck driver in November.

Anthony Avilez Trammell, 20, was arrested Wednesday at the Merced County Jail, where he'd been held on a narcotics warrant since Nov. 26, said Cmdr. Floyd Higdon.

Higdon didn't give specifics on Wednesday about how investigators linked Trammell to the killing. He did say, however, that investigators have recovered a handgun they believe is the murder weapon.

"He became a person of interest very early in the case," Higdon said. "We believe we have enough evidence to prove his guilt in court."

Police say the victim, Randall Armendariz Sr., was killed on Nov. 24 after Armendariz confronted a suspect about stealing a vehicle from Performance Towing, the company the victim worked for.

The day Armendariz was killed, one of the company's service vehicles, a white 1989 GMC 1500 pickup, was reported stolen at 7:43 p.m.

Police believe that Armendariz spotted the stolen vehicle and confronted the thief. Higdon said witnesses reported what appeared to be an argument between the victim and the suspect on Ruby Court near Carmel Road before shots rang out.

After arriving at the scene, police found Armendariz lying in the road on Ruby Court. He had been shot at least once in the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene, Higdon said.

The stolen pickup was also found by police at the scene, the driver's side door open and the engine running.

Trammell was arrested Nov. 26 at a duplex at 1556 E. 21st St. The suspect arrived at the house and police attempted to contact him. Trammell, who was inside the house, brandished a handgun at the officers. Police fired, striking him in the leg and lower abdomen, Higdon said.

After the Nov. 26 confrontation, police reported that Trammell fired at officers, although investigators later determined that the suspect didn't open fire.

Trammell was booked Wednesday on suspicion of murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a crime causing great bodily injury, participation in a criminal street gang, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of stolen property.

He is being held without bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com

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