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Suspect arrested in fatal hit-and-run in Otay Mesa

A 51-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder in a hit-and-run crash that left a bicyclist dead in Otay Mesa on Thanksgiving, police said.

Fernando Salazar, a Mexican citizen, had a warrant out for his arrest in the homicide case and was detained as he crossed into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, San Diego police homicide Lt. Jud Campbell said Tuesday. Salazar was later booked into San Diego Central Jail in connection with the death of Octavio Mendoza.

Octavio Mendoza

(Jose Mendoza)

Salazar remained held without bail on Tuesday.

The hit-and-run crash happened shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Mendoza had been riding a bike on Arey Drive near the Border View Family YMCA when he was struck. Officers found him in the street next to the bike.

Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he died.

Traffic investigators suspected the act was intentional and called in homicide detectives, who took over the case.

Campbell said detectives identified Salazar as the suspect, but the lieutenant wouldn’t say how they identified him. Campbell also declined to comment on a possible motive.

Mendoza’s brother went to the scene after a friend recognized Mendoza as the injured bicyclist. Jose Mendoza said he saw tire marks and suspected the driver jumped a curb and drove through the grass, chasing his brother.

Tire tracks in the grass hours after his Octavio Mendoza was struck and killed riding a bicycle.

Jose Mendoza took this photo of tire tracks in the grass hours after his brother Octavio Mendoza was struck and killed riding a bicycle on Arey Drive in Otay Mesa on Nov. 25. San Diego police have said they are investigating the hit-and-run as an intentional act.

(Jose Mendoza)

“We just want justice for my brother,” Jose Mendoza told the Union-Tribune in early December.

He described his brother as artistic and “full of life,” with a laugh that “filled up the room.”

“My brother liked making people laugh,” he said. “People loved him.”

He said his brother was the father of an 8-month-old boy and that his brother’s girlfriend was pregnant with their second child.



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