Army veteran slain in Sylmar never served in Afghanistan, military says

Man slain in Sylmar was never deployed to Afghanistan, despite what family, LAPD has claimed, military says

An Army veteran who was gunned down in Sylmar at his homecoming party -- purportedly for his return from a tour in Afghanistan -- actually was never deployed overseas, a military official confirmed Wednesday.

Francisco Garcia, 21, never served in Afghanistan and was discharged from the U.S. Army in July, said Julie Halpin, a spokeswoman for Fort Drum in New York, where he was stationed.

Garcia enlisted in June 2012 and worked as a cannon crew member at Fort Drum, where he remained until his separation in July, Halpin said.

Los Angeles police had said that Garcia was shot and killed early Sunday outside a party celebrating his homecoming from a tour to Afghanistan.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon from LAPD's Mission station said police detectives did not verify Garcia's military service because it was not an aspect of the crime or investigation. 

In a statement issued Sunday, Vernon said Garcia's girlfriend threw the party in his honor at a home on Dronefield Street.

While leaving the party for a new location, Garcia was hit by gunfire stemming from a "simmering dispute," Vernon said.

"The ironies are obvious," Vernon said at the time. "To survive as a soldier in an overseas conflict, only to be killed in your old neighborhood upon your return."

Police on Tuesday announced they had arrested Vincent Estrada, 18, of Sylmar on suspicion of killing Garcia.

Staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this story.

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4:01 p.m.: This post has been updated with a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department about verifying Francisco Garcia's military service.