Saturday, July 03, 2004 | Inland Southern California | Inland News | Inland Southern California | Inland News

TEMECULA - A 28-year-old undocumented immigrant was found dead in a Border Patrol holding cell in Temecula hours after a confrontation with agents, authorities said Friday.

Details of the death remained sketchy Friday, and authorities said they had not determined whether the man died accidentally or had committed suicide.

An autopsy is scheduled for the Honduran man Tuesday, said Dennis Gutierrez, a spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and coroner's office. Authorities have not released the man's name because his relatives had not been notified, but Honduras' Consulate in Los Angeles has identified the man as Ecar Paz Moradel.

Moradel was first taken into custody Wednesday evening in Corona.

He flagged down an officer around 10 p.m. near the police station, said Corona police Sgt. Jerry Rodriguez. The officer took Moradel, who authorities believe was a transient, to the station and brought in a translator.

Police arrested the man on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamines and put him in a holding cell until he sobered up, police said. He was released at 4:45 a.m. Thursday, Rodriguez said.

A little more than two hours later, police got a call from AAA Animal Hospital in the 400 block of East Sixth Street about a man trying to enter the business, Rodriguez said.

Christopher Alderson, 41, was working at the animal hospital when Moradel started hanging onto the door. Alderson said he noticed a large bruise on Moradel's head and watched the man talk to himself. At 8:10 a.m., police returned to the animal hospital after receiving a call that Moradel was trying to break a window, Rodriguez said.

Moradel returned 20 minutes later, Alderson said. He said he put Moradel in a chokehold for 10 to 15 minutes as he waited for police, who had been called again.

Police put Moradel in a holding cell and called the Border Patrol to pick him up.

Agent Richard Kite from the San Diego area said it is not uncommon to respond to requests from other law-enforcement agencies for assistance.

Around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, the police released the man to Border Patrol agents, Rodriguez said.Agents took Moradel to the station on Diaz Road for processing.

During the processing, Moradel became combative, and agents put him in a holding cell to calm him down.


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