Gruesome new details revealed about 'targeted attack' in killing of California UPS driver

Gruesome new details revealed about 'targeted attack' in killing of California UPS driver

IRVINE, Calif. - Gruesome new details were revealed Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a UPS driver in Southern California, in what authorities called a "targeted attack."

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.

According to the District Attorney's office, Fontanoza, a UPS employee who was on work disability, allegedly tracked down the delivery route of his childhood friend and coworker, 50-year-old Expedito De Leon, and shot him 14 times in a matter of seconds as he sat buckled into his delivery truck last Thursday.

<div>Expedito De Leon</div>
Expedito De Leon

Authorities are still working to uncover the motive for what led to the execution of a longtime friend.

Investigators said that on May 16, Fontanoza allegedly stopped another UPS driver around 12:30 p.m. and asked if the route belonged to his childhood friend, UPS delivery driver De Leon. When the driver told him De Leon had another route, Fontanoza is accused of going to the UPS Aliso Viejo substation where he was seen accessing a computer that shows driver routes and taking a picture with his phone.

<div>Rhean Jalipa Fontanoza</div>
Rhean Jalipa Fontanoza

Fontanoza had been on disability leave but was scheduled to return to work on June 1, 2024.

Just before 3 p.m., investigators said that Fontanoza tracked De Leon down on his route and drove past him in a new vehicle which De Leon wouldn’t recognize. De Leon left his truck to make a delivery, returned to his truck, and buckled his seatbelt.

He still had his UPS scanner in his hand and his seatbelt buckled when Fontanoza drove next to De Leon’s delivery truck and allegedly shot him 14 times in 19 seconds.

Fontanoza drove away after the shooting and was later found by police in his vehicle on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange later that afternoon. Fontanoza refused to exit his vehicle but was arrested after police deployed a police K9 and tear gas into the vehicle.

"Mr. De Leon was just going about his day, doing his job with no idea his longtime friend was stalking him with every intent to kill him," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "The depravity involved to plot and carry out a plan to execute someone you shared a lifetime of memories is not something anyone of us can wrap our heads around. No life should have to end like this and it is a tragedy that should have never happened."

Fontanoza is currently being held on no bail.

If convicted as charged, Fontanoza is eligible for the death penalty. However, Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on executions in 2019.