Gregory Black faces charges in a crash that killed sisters Veronica Amezola, bottom right inset, and Kimberly Izquierdo, left inset, and their childhood friend Juvelyn Arroyo, top inset. (Victims’ photos from GoFundMe; Crime scene screenshot from Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL-TV)
A gang member was on probation for murder when he allegedly sped through a red light at 100 mph in South Los Angeles and plowed into an Uber, killing two sisters and their best friend on their way home from a concert and leaving the driver and a fourth passenger injured.
Gregory Black, 31, faces vehicular manslaughter charges in the Saturday morning crash at Vermont Avenue and Century Boulevard that killed sisters Veronica Amezola, 23, and Kimberly Izquierdo, 27, and their childhood friend Juvelyn Arroyo, 23.
The Uber driver, Michelle Lee, 38, had a broken neck and ribs and massive head trauma. Jesus Lopez, sitting in the front seat, injured his left leg, chest and arms. Black broke his left ankle, was briefly hospitalized, and then booked into the LA County Jail with bail set at $4 million. His next court date is set for Tuesday, online records show. Black has pleaded not guilty to the charges. It was not clear whether he had an attorney.
In a news conference on Wednesday, LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno said Black is a “third-strike” gang member with 11 previous arrests. He was serving five years of probation for a murder at the time of the crash.
“He has a pretty checkered past, pretty extensive criminal history,” Moreno said.
He said the horrific crime scene looked like “a bomb went off.”
“It was heartbreaking,” he added.
Details about the murder case were not available. A message to the LA County District Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned. The Orange County Register said the murder case was a drive-by shooting in 2020.
Police said that after striking the victim’s vehicle, the Black’s vehicle spun out of control and landed on the center median, police said. The collision was so powerful that one of the victims was ejected, and police found a body in the street. Another victim had to be extracted from a vehicle.
Victor Gonzalez told Los Angeles station KTLA he tried to help some of the victims.
“I was trying to help the two girls in the back,” he said. “I started shaking them, you know, and talking to them and waking them up, but they weren’t responding, and they weren’t breathing.”
Moreno said a possible crime had preceded the crash, “forcing this person to drive the way they did.”
The victims’ families are crushed.
“For our family, the world has gone dark,” Jose Izquierdo, Kimberly and Amezola’s brother, told KTLA. “They had such an impact on this world in such a little time that they had to. They did everything out of the kindness of their heart, and their compassion and their intelligence.
“This was another night when they went out together, and they were responsible, and they didn’t drive.”
A fundraising page called Izquierdo and Amezola kind, beautiful souls. They were on their way home with their childhood friend, Arroyo, when they were killed, the site said. Izquierdo had just graduated from nursing school and hoped to move into the medical field. She was on the dance team at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
“Kimberly and Vero were both bright and full of life, with so much more life to live and gave so much love through their kindness, intelligence, compassion, and joy,” the site said.
Amezola graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt, spent her time doing field research in the Redwoods and was interested in environmental science, the site said.
“She recently got a job with the County of Orange working with animals and was looking forward to the start of a bright future,” the page said. “Kimberly and Veronica are both loving sisters who did everything together.”
A GoFundMe set up to honor the memory of Arroyo said she had a bright and promising life taken too soon.
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