Police make arrest in Los Altos murder case

Highlands shooting
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Cyclists pass a Los Altos Police Department vehicle on patrol on Highlands Circle Thursday afternoon.

Los Altos Police detectives have arrested a Redwood City man in connection with last week’s murder of Roberto Rivera, a mason who was shot to death while working at a south Los Altos home. 

Officers arrested Edgar Lainez-Portillo, 25, Saturday (May 9) and booked him into the Santa Clara County Main Jail, where he is being held without bail, the police department announced Monday afternoon.

Edgar Geovani Lainez-Portillo

“Thankfully, there have been few homicides in Los Altos in its history and it is with a sense of pride and purpose that we announce this arrest less than a week after this tragedy,” said Police Chief Andy Galea, according to a press release. “I am filled with pride at the response of our entire police department, from the initial patrol officers on scene, to the investigators that worked tirelessly to bring the suspect to justice.”

Galea said Lainez-Portillo was arrested on a homicide charge. Sean Webby, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, indicated the charges are being reviewed.

Reports of a gunshot injury brought law enforcement officials to a home on the 1000 block of Highlands Circle at 10:55 a.m. May 4. In the backyard, they discovered Rivera, a 48-year-old Union City resident, with grave wounds. He died at approximately 11:15 a.m.

The family that lives at the residence was home at the time of the shooting, and a contractor working across the street sheltered them as detectives investigated. He told the Town Crier he heard both the gunshots and the revving sound of a motorcycle.

Mothers Against Murder, a Los Altos nonprofit organization, and the Los Altos Police Department subsequently announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Roberto Rivera

“We’re disturbed,” said Margaret Petros, executive director of Mothers Against Murder. “In a safe neighborhood, someone comes and just shoots out, killing somebody. That was very disturbing.”

The day of Rivera’s murder was the first day residential landscaping and construction were permitted to resume since Santa Clara County health officer Dr. Sara Cody issued an order in March limiting activity to essential business so as to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Petros said the knowledge of Rivera’s circumstances convinced her to talk to Mothers Against Murder founders and officers Roger Smith and Judy Kay about doubling the reward amount from $5,000 to $10,000.

“On his first day back at work from the shelter-in-place,” Petros said. “I was just heartbroken. So I talked to Roger and his wife and said, ‘You know, this is just terrible.’ This man clearly had not been working. We can only imagine the financial sufferings his family was having, comes back on the first day of work in a very safe neighborhood and this happens.”

As of Monday afternoon, it was not yet known whether a tipster helped facilitate Lainez-Portillo’s arrest.

Galea thanked the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the Mountain View Police Department, the Palo Alto Police Department, the San Jose Police Department, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for assisting with the investigation. He also expressed sympathy to Rivera’s family and friends.

“If there is any assistance that we can provide in the difficult days ahead, please know we will be there to support you,” he said, according to the release.

Anyone with additional information about the case is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Cameron Shearer of the Los Altos Police Department Investigative Services Division at 947-2770. Individuals who wish to remain anonymous may call the police department’s tip line at 947-2774. Anonymous tips may be eligible for a cash reward when submitted to Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at svcrimestoppers.org or via the P3 Tips mobile app, p3tips.com.


June 25: Memorial fund established for children of man murdered in Los Altos

May 14: Fatal Los Altos shooting possibly motivated by jealousy

May 4: Reward offered in Los Altos homicide case

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