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Long Beach police search for witnesses, motive in killing of mother and daughter

Long Beach police search for witnesses, motive in killing of mother and daughter
Relatives and friends pay condolences to Luis Anaya, left, whose 4-year-old daughter was shot and killed along with her mother at the intersection of 9th Street and Locust Avenue in Long Beach on Saturday night. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Long Beach police are struggling to understand why someone opened fire on a family outside the city's downtown area Saturday night, killing a woman and her 4-year-old daughter, and have received just three phone calls offering information, city officials said Monday.

It remains unclear if Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter, Jennabel, were targeted or the victims of a random crime, according to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

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Speaking to reporters at the crime scene on Monday, homicide Sgt. Robert Woods dismissed notions that the shooting was linked to gang activity and expressed disappointment that police tip lines had not been flooded with calls.

"I was a little disheartened by that," he said. "I thought we would just have an influx of information coming from the public. We haven't had it yet."

Mancera, her longtime boyfriend, Luis Anaya, and their daughter were walking toward their Locust Avenue home at the intersection of East 9th Street at about 10:20 p.m. when they were approached by the shooter, Woods said.

"After opening fire on the two decedents, he also fired a round at Mr. Anaya and then fled," Woods said, adding that the shooter headed eastbound after the attack.

Woods would not comment on the type of weapon used and said he did not want to characterize what happened as an ambush, "because we don't have enough evidence to show that yet."

"I will say it was at close range and very brutal," he said.

Neighbor Robert Navarro talks with Times photographer Luis Sinco about what he saw in the aftermath of the shooting.

Police have recovered surveillance footage filmed in the area of the shooting, but Woods said the footage alone "is not going to solve our case" and urged more witnesses to come forward.

Anaya and Mancera both grew up in Long Beach, and had been together for at least five years, friends told The Times on Sunday. Anaya worked in construction and had no gang connections, his friends said.

Neighbors were surprised by the attack, describing the area as a residential strip where the sound of gunfire is uncommon.

"This neighborhood and just this downtown area is dramatically safer than it was 10 years ago," Garcia said. "This is a neighborhood that has developed. There's a lot of folks that live there. It's a good community."

Luis Anaya and Carina Mancera attend a celebration with their 4-year-old daughter, Jennabel Anaya. Jennabel and her mother were shot to death in August.
Luis Anaya and Carina Mancera attend a celebration with their 4-year-old daughter, Jennabel Anaya. Jennabel and her mother were shot to death in August. (Family photo)

Though the number of homicides in Long Beach has not increased significantly this year, violent crime across the city jumped by 8% in the first six months of 2016. Garcia cautioned that crime in the city was still down dramatically over the last decade, and he attributed the recent surge in Long Beach to a larger statewide trend.

"We know that violent crime has been increasing in most California cities, especially the larger ones, and so we're looking at that," he said. "We're putting more resources to ensure the community is safe."

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In response to the lack of information from the public, Garcia said he has discussed offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest in the slaying. Police are asking anyone with information about the killings to contact Dets. Scott Lasch and Michael Hubbard at (562) 570-7244.

"It is a whodunnit, and definitely motive — this one baffles me," Woods, the homicide sergeant, said. "I've been doing it for a little while, and it baffles me."

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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