PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — Pasadena police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the murder of Mickey Cooper, the brother of Lakers legend Michael Cooper.
Officers arrested Aaron Miguel Conell, 24, of Pasadena, less than a day after Mickey Cooper’s body was found in Washington Park in Pasadena.
They say Conell was originally charged with an unrelated charge of assault with a firearm and held while investigators continued the investigation. They managed to obtain more evidence and on Monday he added murder to his charge.
At this point, no motive or description of the events that led to the killing were given.
“Didn’t bother anyone”
Mickey Cooper grew up in Pasadena as the younger brother of a later celebrated athlete and led a quiet but sometimes troubled life.
The brothers played basketball in the same park where Mickey was killed.
“We lived 10 houses down,” Michael Cooper told Eyewitness News. “This is a park where we grew up playing as children. That’s why he felt comfortable and safe here.”
When he heard about his brother’s shooting, Michael said he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to harm Mickey.
“He just went about his life, didn’t bother anyone, loved everyone. That someone came and took his life, that no one loved him? He was loved by many people.”
Michael Cooper played for the Lakers during the Showtime era of the 1980s, winning five championships with the franchise. After his playing career ended, he held various coaching positions, including helping to lead the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks to two titles. He also currently contributes to ABC7’s basketball coverage as an analyst.
Michael says his 64-year-old brother battled drug addiction for several years.
“We tried to help him through this process. And he chose to live that life, but that doesn’t mean someone can come and take his life,” Cooper said.
Mickey’s body was found in the park around 4 a.m. Saturday when the police ShotSpotter system detected gunshots in the area. Officers found Mickey unresponsive and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators say they were able to identify Connell as a “person of interest” within hours of the murder.
They thought their potential suspect was dangerous and called for help.
“Believing this individual posed an imminent threat to the public, investigators coordinated an arrest operation with members of the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Taskforce, PPD SWAT and PPD K-9 Unit,” the department wrote in a news release.
According to prison records, Conell was arrested without incident on assault charges shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday – just about 17 hours after Mickey’s body was discovered.
Records indicate he was being held on $2 million bail.
Last month, another shooting was reported in the same park under similar circumstances – discovered around 2 a.m. when the ShotSpotter detected possible gunshots. There is currently no evidence that the two incidents are related. But police say they have provided extra security around the park.