The family of a man who died after he crashed his pickup truck outside a bar in Hawthorne and then was beaten by a group of people he nearly struck called Monday for officials to make an arrest.
Melguin Lopez Santos, 40, of Los Angeles, was told to leave the bar because he was being a nuisance, officials said, when he then allegedly tried to hit people on the sidewalk with his truck at around 12:10 a.m. Saturday. Santos then crashed against a building and was pulled out and beaten by the group, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Monica Perez, Santos’ wife, and other family members gathered outside the bar in the 14200 block of Hawthorne Boulevard on Monday morning. Perez is the mother of Santos’ four children, she told reporters through tears.
“I want justice for my husband,” she said. “This wasn’t an accident, he was murdered.”
Perez and her sister, Ilene Perez, asked for anyone with information about what led up to the incident to contact investigators.
“He was a very good father, very supportive,” Ilene Perez said of her brother-in-law. “He did not deserve this. Whatever happened, it shouldn’t have gotten that far.”
After Santos was told to leave the business that night, he argued with another person before walking out to his truck, sheriff’s Lt. Hugo Reynaga said earlier. Santos then intentionally drove onto the sidewalk, he said, nearly hitting the group of patrons before the truck wedged against a tree.
As the patrons tried to take Santos out of the driver’s seat, he accelerated again and hit the corner of a nearby building, Reynaga said.
Surveillance footage from a nearby building showed the handful of people in front of the bar, who were almost struck. After Santos strikes the corner and the car stops, the group can be seen surrounding the truck. The driver’s side door blocks most of what happened after Santos was pulled out.
Damage to the building that was struck was still visible on Monday morning, with some bricks missing from the side of a wall. About a dozen candles sat nearby, in honor of Santos.
When Hawthorne police officers got to the scene, Santos was lying on the ground suffering from blunt force trauma, said Deputy Grace Medrano, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. The Sheriff’s Department was called a couple of hours later to assist Hawthorne police with the investigation.
Detectives were waiting for autopsy results to see if Santos may have died of a medical issue during the fight that led to his death, Reynaga said. The crashes “weren’t that impactful,” he said.
Most of the people involved in the incident were interviewed by detectives and then released, Reynaga said, pending the result of the autopsy. It wasn’t known how many others fled when officers arrived.
Staff writer Nathan Percy contributed to this report.