SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA — After several weeks of investigation, detectives arrested 22-year-old Raul Benitez for the shooting death of Alex Moran, 25, outside a medical marijuana clinic on March 17, 2013.

“Detectives had a tip where Benitez would be and were waiting for him,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division.  “But when he didn’t stop, we followed him into Burbank then took him into custody.”

Detectives also released a photo of Santiago Gutierrez, 23, who remains at large and is wanted as a co-principle in the shooting.  Gutierrez is a documented gang member who goes by the moniker Ya Ya.  He is 5’11” tall and weighs 250 pounds (photo inset).

Detectives believe Gutierrez and Benitez confronted a rival gang member in the marijuana clinic.  That man was a passenger in the car Moran was driving.  When Gutierrez and Benitez left the clinic, one approached Moran, who was sitting behind the steering wheel, and shot him several times.

“This was a cold-blooded gang shooting, nothing less,” Lt. Vernon added.  “Now we need someone to step up and tell us where Gutierrez and the murder weapon is.”

Following Benitez’s arrest, police searched three locations, including Benitez’s home, but did not find any weapons.  One of the homes searched in Arleta was a large property with dozens of fighting roosters, which police turned over to Animal Services.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call LAPD Mission Area, Homicide Detective Ryan Verna at 818-838-9976.  Anonymous tips can be called into Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Online tips may be placed at, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

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