A 25-year-old Santa Maria man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the death of an Army soldier who was shot and killed in Lompoc on Sept. 8, but a second suspect remains on the loose, the Lompoc Police Department announced Thursday.
Francisco Gutierrez-Ortega turned himself in around 8 a.m. Thursday to the Santa Maria Police Department, which was assisting the Lompoc Police Department on the case. Lompoc police are asking for help from the public to locate the second suspect, 24-year-old Walter Alexander Morales Jr.
Gutierrez-Ortega and Morales Jr. are suspected by Lompoc police of being involved in the death of 22-year-old Marlon Brumfield, who was shot and killed around 2 a.m. Sept. 8 while walking along North A Street near Ocean Avenue. Brumfield was back in his hometown while on leave from Germany with the Army.
“Lompoc Police Department detectives have worked tirelessly on this investigation since it occurred,” read a portion of a Thursday statement from the Lompoc Police Department that announced the arrest.
Marlon Brumfield was reportedly home while on leave from Germany when he was shot and killed just before 2 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of North A Street and East Ocean Avenue. The homicide ushered in online messages of condolences from around the world from those who knew Brumfield, while it also reignited an ongoing local conversation about public safety in the city.
“The Lompoc Police Department will seek prosecution on any person found to be aiding and abetting Walter Morales Jr.,” the statement concluded.
The Lompoc Police Department teamed with the Santa Maria Police Department on Wednesday night to serve a search warrant at Gutierrez-Ortega’s Santa Maria residence. Gutierrez-Ortega wasn’t home at the time, according to Lompoc police officials, who reported that detectives talked with Gutierrez-Ortega’s family members and encouraged them to have Gutierrez-Ortega turn himself in, which he did the next morning.
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Morales Jr., who is still being sought by police, is described as a Hispanic male who stands about 5-foot-4 and weighs around 140 pounds. His hair is black and his eyes are brown.
Morales Jr. has multiple tattoos, including “Griselda” written on his neck; “VLP” on his left arm; “Elisa” and a rocking L on his right arm; “LOM” on his left leg; “POC” on his right leg; “Morales” on his back; and “805” on his left jaw and neck.
Anyone with information about Morales Jr.’s whereabouts is encouraged by detectives to contact the Lompoc Police Department at 805-736-2341.
Gutierrez-Ortega is in custody at the Lompoc City Jail on a no-bail warrant.
A march led by Lompoc pastors and community members has been planned for Friday evening to honor Brumfield and demand justice for his death. The march is set to start at 7 p.m. at Starbuck-Lind Mortuary, at 123 North A St., and continue to City Hall, 100 Civic Center Plaza.
Brumfield's funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at True Vine Bible Fellowship. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that mourners donate to America's Gold Star Families.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.