Suspect charged with murder in connection with soldier's 2019 death
By THE LOMPOC RECORD Published: July 21, 2020
LOMPOC, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — A Lompoc man on Monday was charged in the gang-related shooting death of Spc. 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.
Morales was arrested shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Friday following a 6-hour standoff with Santa Maria Police and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's officers, including SWAT team members.
He is scheduled to appear for a July 21 arraignment in Department 9 of Superior Court in Santa Maria, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Morales is a suspect in the death of Brumfield, 22, a soldier who was home on leave when he was shot and killed on Sept. 8, 2019, in Lompoc, according to police. Brumfield was a Stryker maintainer with the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.
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.