A former Mt. San Antonio College streetcar driver was charged Monday with the murder of another streetcar driver on campus, authorities said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office also charged James Edward Milliken Jr., 38, with Diamond Bar in connection with the allegation that he used two weapons, a car and a knife, to commit the crime on Thursday, December 1.
Milliken hit Rafael Barragan Jr., 63, of Pomona, with a car outside Building 9A, sheriff’s detectives said. Barragan died there. Milliken remained at the scene and was detained.
Milliken was due to be arraigned Monday in Pomona Superior Court, but it continued until Tuesday, according to a court official.
The victim and suspect worked as streetcar drivers for students with disabilities at the college located at 1100 N. Grand Ave. in Walnut. Milliken was a part-time driver from Oct. 13, 2016, to Sept. 23, 2021. College officials said he quit.
In an Oct. 5, 2021, Facebook post, Milliken claimed co-workers treated him unfairly, made racist comments, spread rumors about him, and commented on his hair. He named Barragan and alleged that Barragan repeatedly threatened him and convinced others to harass him.
However, detectives did not reveal a motive for the murder.
Mt. SAC President William Scroggins described Barragan as gracious, popular, and respected.
“Thursday morning, December 1, we woke up, came to work at Mt. SAC and for many of us, our lives were changed forever. None of us were prepared for what we faced that day,” Audrey Yamagata-Noji, vice president of student services, said Monday. “Ralph was our friend, our buddy, our sunshine.”
Barragan came to work with a smile every day and brought joy and positivity to everyone he interacted with, she said.
“Ralph did more than transport ACCESS students – he was their friend, their mentor, their encouragement. To colleagues, he was always there to support you, smile, wave, stop to show you pictures of his family, remember something about you, show interest in you and your life,” Yamagata said. – Noji.
A campus memorial was erected for Barragan at the west end of the Mount SAC Student Services Center. This is the area of campus where Barragan would park and board her passengers on the tram, she said.
The college will also hold a memorial service to honor Barragan’s legacy at 3 p.m. on Friday, December 9, on the first floor of the Student Services Center.
–Writer Nathaniel Percy contributed to this report.