Hawthorne is a city located near Los Angeles International Airport. The Daily Breeze reported that law enforcement officers were alerted to the incident just after midnight Saturday morning.
Authorities said Santos then got into an argument with another person outside on his way out. Shortly after, he intentionally drove his truck into a crowd in an attempt to hit people before getting his truck wedged against a tree.
At that point, a crowd gathered around the vehicle and tried to pull Santos out of the driver's seat, but he accelerated again and crashed into a nearby building.
The group then successfully pulled him from the vehicle and began pummeling him. By the time officers and medics arrived, Santos was pronounced dead at the scene. His official cause of death still needs to be determined by a coroner.
"Hawthorne Police officers saw the driver lying on the ground, suffering what appeared to be blunt force trauma," the sheriff's department reportedly said in a statement. "Paramedics provided life-saving measures, but he was pronounced deceased on scene."
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According to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Grace Medrano, homicide detectives with the sheriff's department were called to the scene at roughly 2 a.m.
KABC-TV reported that at least four men pulled Santos from his truck to beat him. They are now reportedly considered suspects in his death.
The incident was reportedly captured by a surveillance camera, but the footage is grainy and the beating is partially blocked from view by the truck.
"You could see there was a fight going on, but you couldn't tell who was doing what," Reynaga said.
The sheriff added that detectives are now awaiting the results of the autopsy to determine whether Santos suffered a medical injury from the crashes that may have led to his death. But he noted that based on the video, the crashes "weren't that impactful."