Driver who picked up Hemet murder suspect was unaware of danger – San Bernardino Sun

A man who drove murder suspect Koron LeKeith Lowe to the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, where Lowe was captured after a standoff outside the resort on Wednesday, Jan. 26, had no idea that he had picked up a fugitive, Hemet police said.

The man, who gambled inside as Lowe sat in the man’s car, was thoroughly questioned and released.

“There is no evidence, at this point, that indicates the driver had any knowledge of what happened yesterday and yes…was simply giving Lowe a ride,” Lt. Nathan Miller said.

But should the department have provided enough information to allow the driver and others to have recognized Lowe?

Police said they began tracking Lowe minutes after they arrived at a home in the 3000 block of Greengable Lane at about 6:15 a.m. Tuesday and found 30-year-old Asasha Lache Hall shot to death after Lowe was involved in a disturbance. But it wasn’t until after 6 p.m. that police issued a news release that named Lowe not as a murder suspect, but a “person of interest” whom police “would like to speak with.” And the release did not provide a description of Lowe or a photo.

Lowe had worked his way to Beaumont and the Banning Pass by the next morning, police said. And at some point, the driver unwittingly gave Lowe a lift, and they arrived at the casino around 1 p.m.

Hemet Police Chief Eddie Pust said Thursday that detectives consider the circumstances of each case and make decisions that will protect the investigation and the public. The department in the past has released more thorough suspect descriptions when appropriate, he said.

“You have to take into consideration the mentality of the individual and is it somebody who may be a danger to the public?” Pust said.

If not, and a suspect learns, for instance, from a police tweet that he is being hunted, “We’ll lose a lot of ways of tracking individuals and sometimes they’ll go into hiding,” Pust said.

Pust said that in Lowe’s case, the attack was not random. Detectives were working on leads that could have been compromised for reasons he wouldn’t detail if Lowe’s photo had been made public.

Jim Bueermann, a former Redlands police chief who is now a consultant to law enforcement agencies, said Thursday that while there are good reasons to provide the public detailed descriptions of suspects so they can avoid chance encounters, there are also good reasons to withhold information.

“They don’t want the guy to flee. Many murder suspects think they got away with it,” Bueermann said.

“There are lots of considerations to be made when you put out a name, photo and description of somebody wanted for a crime as serious as murder. One, is this a true person of interest? Do they have a probable to make an arrest? Did the guy actually do it? You don’t want to destroy a guy’s life if he is innocent,” Bueermann said.

Saturating the media with suspect descriptions might result in the public paying scant attention to the latest bulletin. And it’s unclear whether someone such as Lowe’s driver would even see the description or remember it, he said. And some suspects change their appearance while on the lam, Bueermann said.

In Lowe’s case, he was one of five adults and two children who live in that home, and there were two other adults visiting at the time. Bueermann said a person who knows his victim is less likely to be considered a danger to the public in general.

“That’s different than a serial killer who is randomly attacking people. In that case, that trumps all other concerns,” Bueermann said. “You have to warn everybody.”

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