Man charged in fatal shooting of UPS driver in Irvine

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

IRVINE, Calif. – An Aliso Viejo man was charged Monday with gunning down a UPS driver in Irvine.

Rhean Jalipa Fontanoza, 46, was charged with murder with a special circumstances allegation of shooting from a vehicle and murder by lying in wait. He was also facing a sentencing enhancement for shooting a gun causing death.

Fontanoza is accused of killing 50-year-old UPS driver Expedito Cuesta De Leon, also of Aliso Viejo, according to Kyle Oldoerp of the Irvine Police Department.

The shooting occurred about 3 p.m. Thursday at Chrysler and Fleming.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect’s silver Honda Ridgeline 4-door truck pulling up next to the UPS truck before feeling on Goodyear toward Jeronimo, police said.

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The victim was shot multiple times and was found slumped over in the driver’s seat of the UPS truck. There was no immediate word on what may have prompted the shooting, but police said the two are acquaintances.

Multiple reports indicated that Fontanoza was also a UPS driver.

UPS issued a statement saying only, “We are shocked and saddened by the latest developments in Irvine. … These are highly unusual circumstances and do not represent the culture of our company and the camaraderie among our employees around the world. Our focus now is on supporting our people and their loved ones during this extremely difficult time. Since the investigation is ongoing, we defer any additional questions to the investigating authorities.”

Following the shooting, authorities radioed law enforcement in the area with a suspect description, and just before 4 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy found a match on Santiago Canyon Road, and the pickup was stopped near Chapman Avenue. Video from the scene around 6 p.m. showed the pickup pinned by a pair of armored SWAT vehicles, with additional officers stationed on a hillside above the standoff.

At about 6:15 p.m., officers were seen firing what appeared to be tear gas into the cab of the truck, and a short time later, a police canine was deployed, engaging the suspect in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle. After a short struggle, officers moved in and pulled the man from the vehicle and took him into custody.

Fontanoza was hospitalized following his arrest, but the extent of his injuries was unclear.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.