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Lompoc man charged in soldier's 2019 death

Lompoc man charged in soldier's 2019 death

  • Updated

A Lompoc man on Monday was charged in the gang-related shooting death of U.S. Army soldier Marlon Brumfield in September 2019, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office. 

Walter Morales, 26, was charged with first-degree murder, with the special allegation of street terrorism, and three additional enhancements: personal use of a firearm, using the firearm to commit great bodily injury and committing the alleged crime for the benefit of a street gang. 

Superior Court Judge Gustavo Lavayen ordered no bail for Morales on Tuesday, citing past charges and deeming him a flight risk, after hearing arguments from attorneys during an arraignment hearing in Santa Maria. 

Morales did not appear in person or by video conference due to unspecified medical reasons after being placed in quarantine at the Santa Barbara County Jail following his arrest. 

Lavayen continued the arraignment for Morales, who has yet to enter a plea but agreed to appear by video conference from the jail on July 28, according to Dillon Forsyth, Morales' attorney. The hearing will be held at Lompoc Superior Court.

Morales was arrested in the 1500 block of South Thornburg Street shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Friday following a seven-hour standoff with Santa Maria Police and Santa Barbara County sheriff's officers, including SWAT team members.  

Morales is a suspect in the death of Brumfield, 22, a U.S. Army soldier who was home on leave from Germany when he was shot and killed on Sept. 8, 2019, near the intersection of North A Street and East Ocean Avenue in Lompoc, according to police. 

A week before his arrest, Morales was allegedly spotted driving a silver Mercury Mountaineer involved in two separate shooting incidents in Lompoc on July 11, according to Lompoc Police Detective Michael Miller. 

Another suspect, 25-year-old Francisco Gutierrez-Ortega, of Santa Maria, turned himself in to police four days after Brumfield's death and was also charged with murder and a special allegation of street terrorism. 

Gutierrez-Ortega pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Santa Maria court on July 31. 


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