Brother of Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Good Samaritan Navy Sailor Arrested

21-year-old Navy sailor Curtis Adam was killed after he stopped to assist a stranded motorist. (Facebook)
21-year-old Navy sailor Curtis Adam was killed after he stopped to assist a stranded motorist. (Facebook)

A man wanted by San Diego police in the October slaying of a good Samaritan on Interstate 15 -- a killing for which the man's brother already faces a murder charge -- was captured in Mexico on Tuesday and turned over to U.S. authorities at the border, police said.

Investigators believe Edson Acuna, 24, fled to Mexico some time after the Oct. 27 slaying of 21-year-old Navy man Curtis Adams on southbound I-15, San Diego police homicide Lt. Anthony Dupree said.

Adams was driving with his girlfriend when he stopped about 2:20 a.m. to help what he thought was a stranded motorist on the freeway near the I-5 on-ramp in Logan Heights, Dupree said. Adams was immediately shot as he exited his vehicle.

Brandon Javier Acuna, 21, was taken into custody and questioned shortly after the shooting. He was arrested later and charged with murder, robbery, burglary and shooting at an inhabited vehicle. Two other people were also arrested and charged in connection with the case before Edson Acuna's arrest Tuesday.

At some point in the investigation, detectives also identified Edson Acuna as a suspect, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of murder, Dupree said. Investigators believed he might have fled to Mexico.

"On (Tuesday), Mexican authorities located Edson Acuna in Mexico and took him into custody," Dupree said in a statement. "The suspect (was) turned over to U.S. authorities at the border."

The elder Acuna was booked into San Diego Central Jail just before 4 p.m. Tuesday and was being held without bail, according to jail records. He was booked on suspicion of the same crimes his brother has been charged with -- murder, robbery, burglary and shooting at an inhabited vehicle -- plus an additional count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In the days after the shooting, detectives also arrested two other people with suspected connections to the freeway slaying, including 24-year-old Harvey Elias Liberato.

He was taken into custody on Oct. 29 and was booked on suspicion of the same slate of charges, including first-degree murder, as those facing Brandon and Edson Acuna. He was being held without bail Tuesday.

On Oct. 31, 38-year-old Susana Galvan was arrested on suspicion of being a criminal accessory in the case, according to prosecutors and jail records. She was being held Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Authorities have not released details on Galvan's and Liberato's alleged involvement the case.

Brandon Acuna was in court Tuesday for a routine appearance in the case.

Police believe the suspects in Adams' killing were also involved in a non-injury shooting incident in the Mount Hope neighborhood about 10 minutes before Adams was gunned down, Dupree said. In that incident, a man was shot at after he encountered people trying to break into his vehicle on Boundary Street north of Market Street.

Adams was a first-generation American whose parents both immigrated to New York from the West Indies, according to his cousin, Desmond Abrams Jr.

Adams enlisted in the Navy in 2016. He was a steelworker with Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and was stationed at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, military officials said.

"He was very excited about deploying and doing his job with the Navy," Abrams Jr. said in October. "He loved the uniform. He was really proud of being a sailor."

This article is written by Alex Riggins from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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