California Driver Arrested In Fatal Shooting of Tow Truck Operator

October 8, 2019 Updated: October 8, 2019

A disagreement between a tow truck driver and his customer turned deadly on Monday, with the operator dying of multiple gunshot wounds.

The gunman, who was named in a Los Angeles Times report, was allegedly a motorist who had called for roadside assistance in Riverside, California, on Monday, Oct. 7.

“From what we understand, there was some sort of altercation,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan Railsback told the LA Times. “The suspect called for a tow service. At some point the suspect’s vehicle was on the tow truck and the suspect became argumentative.”

Investigators cited by Fox 11 said a fight broke out after the customer’s vehicle—a pickup truck with a motorcycle on the back—had already been loaded onto the tow truck. It is unclear what the two men were arguing about.

The tow truck driver, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the LA Times.

The victim was an employee of Liberty Towing, Fox 11 reported, and has been described as a hard-working father-of-three.

The suspect ran off after the shooting, prompting a temporary lockdown of schools in the area, Fox 11 reported.

Police deployed K-9 units in the manhunt, the LA Times reported, and caught the suspect within around 15 minutes.

The deadly altercation took place near the intersection of Bandini and Magnolia avenues at around 1:10 p.m., the LA Times reported.

The incident took place in Riverside, a city east of Los Angeles, California. (Google Maps)

Police have not released any further details about the suspect, except to say they do not believe he is from the Riverside area.

Violent Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States fell by just over 3 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which is based on crimes reported to the police.

However, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf), which is based on self-reported victim surveys administered annually, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. remained essentially unchanged between 2017 and 2018.

BJS Figures

According to the NCVS, the number of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased between 2015 and 2018.

“The increase from 2015 to 2018 in the number of violent-crime victims age 12 or older, from 2.7 million to 3.3 million, was driven by increases in the number of victims of rape or sexual assault, aggravated assault, and simple assault,” the BJS said.

Percent of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime, 1993-2018. (BJS)

Further, BJS figures show that while more people have reported being victims of violent crimes in recent years, the portion of those who report having been victims of serious crimes overall has fallen. The BJS defines serious crimes are those that are generally prosecuted as felonies, including the majority of completed or attempted violent crimes with the exception of simple assault. Also classified as serious crimes are completed burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

Between 2014 to 2018, the portion of U.S. residents age 12 or older who reported being victims of serious crimes fell from 1.89 percent to 1.68 percent. According to BJS, this drop was driven by a decline in completed burglaries.

Percent of U.S. residents age 12 or older who were victims of total serious, serious violent, and serious property crime, 1993-2018. (BJS)

FBI Stats

In 2018, an estimated 1,206,836 violent crimes occurred nationwide, FBI figures show, which represents a year-on-year decrease of 3.3 percent. Violent crimes are defined within the UCR Program as offenses that involve force or threat of force. They consist of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

When considering longer-term trends across 5- and 10-year periods, violent crime in 2018 was 4.7 percent higher than in 2014, but 9.0 percent lower than in 2009.

Violent crime figures for the period 2014-2018, based on crimes reported to the police. (FBI UCR)

Further, FBI data shows that in 2018, the estimated number of murders in the United States was 16,214, which was a 6.2 percent drop from 2017 but a 14.5 percent rise from 2014.

The FBI figures also found there were 5.0 murders per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 2018. By comparison, according to United Nations homicide statistics, the murder rate per 100,000 in Japan last year was 0.28, in Canada 1.68, and in Russia 10.82. The highest murder rate was in El Salvador (82.84), followed by Honduras (56.52), and the United States Virgin Islands (49.26).

Considering violent crime rates over a longer time span, the FBI data shows (pdf) that the rate of offenses that involve force or threat of force fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM