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UPS driver killed in Southern California shot 14 times by childhood friend

New details released Tuesday about the deadly ambush of a UPS driver in Orange County revealed that he was allegedly stalked and killed by a childhood friend.

The shooting occurred on May 16 when the victim, Expedito Cuesta De León, 50, of Aliso Viejo, was sitting in his delivery van after dropping off a package around 3 p.m.


Suddenly, a masked gunman approached De León’s truck and shot him 14 times in a matter of 19 seconds, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Irvine police responded to the area near Chrysler and Bendix streets in Irvine, where they found De Leon with multiple gunshot wounds inside his delivery van. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect, Rhean Jalipa Fontanoza, 46, sped away from the area. He was located approximately an hour later and arrested after a standoff with a SWAT team.

The victim, Expedito Cuesta De León, 50, appears in a personal photograph.
The victim, Expedito Cuesta De León, 50, appears in a personal photograph.
The suspect, Rhean Fontanoza, is seen in an undated image provided by the Irvine Police Department.
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
SWAT teams are seen surrounding Rhean Fontanoza's truck in Orange on May 16, 2024. (KTLA)
SWAT teams are seen surrounding Rhean Fontanoza's truck in Orange on May 16, 2024. (KTLA)
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van
Rhean Fontanoza was pulled from his truck and taken into custody after a SWAT standoff in Orange on May 16, 2024. (KTLA)
Rhean Fontanoza was pulled from his truck and taken into custody after a SWAT standoff in Orange on May 16, 2024. (KTLA)
Orange County UPS driver shot to death in parked van

New details revealed that the two men, both UPS employees, knew each other and were childhood friends.

On May 16, around 12:30 p.m., Fontanoza allegedly stopped another UPS driver to ask if a certain route belonged to the victim, police said.

When the driver said the victim had another route, Fontanoza allegedly went to the UPS Aliso Viejo substation to access a computer displaying the driver’s routes and took a photo of the information with his cell phone.

At the time, Fontanoza was on disability leave and was scheduled to return to work on June 1.

Shortly before 3 p.m., Fontanoza is accused of tracking De León on his route. He reportedly drove past De León several times in a new vehicle that the victim did not recognize.

He waited for De León to make a delivery and return to his truck. That’s when he pulled up next to the UPS truck and opened fire, according to court documents.

“He still had his UPS scanner in his hand and his seat belt fastened when Fontanoza drove alongside De León’s delivery truck and shot him 14 times in 19 seconds,” according to the district attorney’s office.

Fontanoza was later found by police on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange. After she refused to get out of his truck, she was tear-gassed and a police K9 was deployed. The suspect was eventually pulled from the truck and arrested.

The motive behind the deadly shooting, along with details surrounding the men’s relationship, remain unclear.

Fontanoza was charged with one count of murder and special circumstances including drive-by shooting and stalking. He is being held without bail. If he is convicted of all charges, he could receive the death penalty, prosecutors said.

“Mr. De León was just going about his day, doing his job with no idea that his old friend was stalking him with every intention of killing him,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The depravity of plotting and carrying out a plan to execute someone with whom you shared a lifetime of memories is not something any of us can understand. No life should end like this and it is a tragedy that should never have happened.”

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Craig Voors at 949-724-7131 or email [email protected].