UPS Worker Accused in Colleague’s Murder

A UPS worker in Southern California is facing murder charges after allegedly shooting a fellow employee while he was seated in his delivery truck. Rhean Jalipa Fontanoza, 46, is accused of killing 50-year-old Expedito Cuesta De Leon. Prosecutors have also leveled special circumstance allegations against Fontanoza, including firing from a vehicle, murder by lying in wait, and a gun sentencing enhancement.

The incident occurred on Thursday in the city of Irvine, Orange County, approximately an hour southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Police were alerted to the scene around 3 p.m. following multiple reports of gunfire. Melton Garcia, a local resident, told a CBS affiliate that he heard a series of five shots, followed by a brief pause, and then another two or three shots.

Upon arrival, authorities discovered De Leon slumped in the driver’s seat of his delivery truck. Despite attempts at lifesaving measures, De Leon succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds. Surveillance footage from the scene showed a suspect, later identified as Fontanoza, wearing a dark baseball cap and face mask, in a silver Honda Ridgeline truck. The suspect was seen pulling up alongside the UPS truck before driving away.

Following a countywide broadcast, the suspect’s vehicle was located an hour later, leading to a standoff with police. A SWAT team was deployed, and the suspect was eventually apprehended after police fired tear gas into the truck and used a police dog to extract him.

While authorities confirmed that the two men were acquaintances, the motive behind the shooting remains unclear. De Leon’s sister described her brother as a wonderful, caring, and funny individual on a GoFundMe page set up in his memory. She stated that he was “gunned down in broad daylight by a co-worker.”

De Leon’s colleagues gathered near the scene of the shooting to pay their respects. Albert Alba, a coworker of 30 years, remembered De Leon as a family man, an avid mountain biker, and a well-loved member of their team. UPS released a statement expressing their condolences and pledging to assist authorities in their investigation, while also providing support and counseling services to affected employees.