Pistol-whipping started with neighbors fighting over trash in alley, police say • Long Beach Post

An argument over trash in a West Long Beach alley ended with two men pistol-whipping their neighbor’s friend and setting off the gun in the process, according to court documents filed Monday.

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The gunshot didn’t hit anyone, but the scuffle left one victim with a chipped tooth and a scrape on his neck, according to a warrant police filed in order to search the suspects’ home.

The disagreement spilled over around 12:55 p.m. on Nov. 25 when one of the victims parked in an alley near Delta Avenue and 33rd Street.

That’s when the two attackers confronted him and another man “about the trash in the alley and asked why they were dumping in the alley,” police wrote in the warrant.

The victims denied they had anything to do with the trash, but that didn’t stop the aggressors from grabbing one of the victims by the shirt and swinging a pistol up into his face, police wrote.

The man who was hit by the pistol told police that the gun went off when it hit his face, according to the warrant.

The two attackers “then casually walked back to the rear gate” of a nearby home, the warrant says.

Before they went inside, they threatened the victims, saying they’d kill them if they called police, according to the warrant.

Nevertheless, one of the victims called police, who surrounded the attackers’ home, according to the warrant.

They eventually came outside and one of them admitted he was the one responsible for the fight, although, he confessed to firing the gun into the air after punching someone—not accidentally setting it off—police wrote.

Officers arrested the two suspects and found guns and ammunition inside the home after serving the search warrant, police said.

Authorities identified them as 37-year-old Joseph Paul Muagututia and 55-year-old John Emmanuel Velega.

Velega is facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm. Muagututia is facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon and illegal possession of a firearm.

Muagututia has pleaded not guilty, and Velega has yet to enter a plea, according to court records.

Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.

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