LANCASTER – Authorities have identified the victim and the suspect in the fatal car-to-car shooting at a stoplight in Lancaster Sunday night.
The victim has been identified as Lancaster resident Erik Peter Ungerman, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
The 34-year-old was sitting in his car at a red light on West Avenue K and 20th street West, when a gunman pulled alongside him and shot several rounds into the vehicle, Sheriff’s homicide detectives said.
Ungerman was struck multiple times in the upper torso and pronounced dead at the scene, and witnesses saw a silver vehicle speeding away after the shooting, officials said. Read our previous story here.
The alleged getaway vehicle and its driver were found Monday morning, according to Lancaster Sheriff’s Captain Pat Nelson.
“At about 6:30 am [Jan. 20], deputies responded to a medical call of a man slumped over the wheel of a car over at 37th Street East and K-12. When they arrived, they found a 40-year-old male who was deceased from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Nelson said. “Deputies recognized that the vehicle matched the description of the vehicle from the shooting and called the homicide detectives… They came back and they were able to link this deceased suicide victim with the murder victim,” Nelson continued.
The murder suspect/suicide victim has been identified as 40-year-old Jeremy Whitman of Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
Nelson said the suspect and the victim in the car-to-car shooting knew each other.
“It appears at this point that the shooting was as a result of some type of dispute that they had,” Nelson said. “It definitely was not a random shooting, and there’s nobody waiting at stoplights to shoot cars up.”
Those that knew both victim and suspect said the two men were best friends for many years, and the incident was a shock to many.
“Erik was an awesome man who I was in love with for nearly two years, and Jeremy Whitman was our Sunday school teacher from Lancaster Baptist Church,” said Ungerson’s former girlfriend Tiffany Martin. She said Ungerman worked at DirecTV as an installation technician.
Whitman, up until last year, was an employee at Lancaster Baptist Church, and he was also a youth pastor intern at the church many years ago, according to LBC Associate Pastor Tim Christoson.
“He was my friend and brother in Christ and a former employee,” said Christoson. “We’re requesting prayers for his immediate family and for his extended family.”
Both deaths are still under investigation. Anyone with information on either incident is urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
UPDATED 1/23/14: In a post published to his blog today, Lancaster Baptist Church Pastor Paul Chappell remembered his “dear friend” Jeremy Whitman, whom he said had “gone home to be with the Lord.” The Lancaster Baptist Church would be providing for Whitman’s funeral costs, and would be establishing the Whitman Children Education Fund, according to Chappell.
“While I don’t understand all the details and the ‘whys,’ I choose to believe that, at least in his mind, the man who carried out the acts of last Sunday evening was not the man our church family knew and loved nine months earlier and for the twenty-plus years preceding,” Pastor Chappell wrote. Read the pastor’s entire post at paulchappell.com/2014/01/23/remembering-a-dear-friend-jeremy-whitman/.
UPDATED 1/23/14: Loved ones have created an online memorial fund for Erik Ungerman. To donate, click here.
UPDATED 1/25/14: Lancaster Baptist Church reaching out to victim’s family…
In the latest post published to his blog concerning this incident, Lancaster Baptist Church Pastor Paul Chappell gave details about a private funeral service held today for Jeremy Whitman. He said a “special memorial service” would be held in the coming days for others who wished to remember Whitman.
“Our church has also reached out to the victim’s family, the Ungermans, with financial assistance and spiritual encouragement,” Pastor Chappell wrote.
Read the entire post at: www.paulchappell.com/2014/01/25/an-update-on-the-homegoing-of-jeremy-whitman
Previous related story: Man killed in car-to-car shooting in Lancaster