SOUTH EL MONTE — Detectives have arrested a Monterey Park man on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of an El Monte man who died after being struck in the head over the weekend, authorities said Thursday.
David Thomas Olges, 35, was booked Wednesday on suspicion of murder, Detective Frank Salerno of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
He was initially arrested late Monday on suspicion of attempted murder after turning himself in to deputies at the sheriff’s Temple Station, but re-arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday because the victim had died, the detective said.
James Vasquez, 44, of El Monte died at a hospital Monday after being found lying on the street with a head wound at about 11 p.m. Saturday in the 1300 block of Strozier Avenue, according to sheriff’s and coroner’s investigators.
Salerno described the suspect and victim as “longtime friends.”
“There’s many things unknown about this whole incident,” Salerno said.
“The victim and suspect had been drinking quite a bit that day,” he said. “At some point, they were walking from a neighbor’s house back to the victim’s house…The victim was discovered in the street, bleeding from the head area.”
Witnesses told investigators they saw Olges run from the area, get into a car and drive off, Salerno added.
Several beer bottles were found in the area where the wounded man was discovered, Salerno said, but it was unclear what weapon, if any, had been used in the assault.
A motive in the alleged slaying was unclear, Salerno said, and people who knew the men told investigators they were not aware of any dispute between them.
Vasquez never regained consciousness to give detectives a statement before succumbing to his injuries, Salerno said.
An autopsy to determine Vasquez’s official cause of death had not been carried out Thursday, coroner’s officials said.
Friend Eddie Duran, who worked alongside Vasquez for 12 years at a refrigeration company, said he was shocked and “puzzled” to learn Vasquez was the apparent victim of a killing.
A father and husband, “That man, he would never ever be upset or very hostile with anybody,” Duran said. “He was always happy and energetic. There was just no way that he would have hurt a fly.”
“Of all people, it’s just so sad,” Duran added. “He was the sweetest, nicest man. The guy was just amazing.”
A woman who was believed to have driven Olges away from the scene was arrested Sunday, however, she was released pending further investigation, Salerno said.
According to county booking records, Olges was being held in lieu of $1 million bail and was due for arraignment Friday in El Monte Superior Court.