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Homeless man shot during fight over $50 is declared brain dead

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeShootingsHomicideTheft

A homeless man who was shot point-blank in the head in Panorama City on Sunday during an argument over $50 has been declared brain dead, according to Los Angeles police.

Hospital officials told homicide detectives that Carlos Sanchez Cruz, 31, was declared brain dead at 3 p.m. Monday.

“It’s sad that a dispute over $50 would lead to a man’s death,” said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. “I hope the family can find some solace in knowing at least that we have the persons responsible in custody.”

Cruz was placed on life support at Holy Cross Hospital following the shooting, which occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on the sidewalk near 9010 Tobias Avenue, police said.

Cruz was arguing with 21-year-old Robert Chapman over a $50 debt or theft when they started to struggle, Vernon said. According to witnesses, another person approached and shot the victim in the head at point-blank range, he said.

A short time later gang officers stopped a group of people at a nearby park where witnesses identified Chapman, police said.

Investigators were then able to figure out the identify of Cruz’s alleged shooter, a 17-year-old who was arrested Monday around 7:30 a.m. as he was leaving his home in San Fernando. 

Due to his age, police did not immediately identify the alleged shooter.

Chapman and the teenager, described by authorities as gang members, were booked on suspicion of attempted murder. With Cruz being declared brain dead, detectives will now pursue murder charges.

Police said Cruz was a transient and well known in the area. 

Nearby, a grocery store owner who declined to give his name said Cruz would often buy energy drinks at his store and occasionally try to sell him stolen items, such as disposable razor blades.

He said Cruz seemed like a nice person and often wore a backpack while on his bicycle.

Police urged anyone with information about the case to contact Det. Ryan Verna at (818) 838-9976. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477. 

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

Twitter: @latvives

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