Girl, 11, Among Six Killed in Gang Violence

Times Staff Writer

An 11-year-old girl was killed and her aunt was critically wounded in the Pico-Union area west of downtown Los Angeles when they were struck by gunfire apparently intended for gang members standing nearby, police said.

The death of Jasmine Guevara Saturday night was one of six gang-related homicides recorded over the weekend in Los Angeles County, authorities said.

Detectives said the girl, her 14-year-old sister, Melda, and aunt Blanca Guevara, 42, were going home from a liquor store where they had bought candy and soda when several shotgun blasts were fired at 9:30 p.m. in front of an apartment house in the 1800 block of Orchard Avenue.

The gunfire came from a passing auto, perhaps a Camaro. Melda Guevara was not wounded but several pellets hit Jasmine Guevara and her aunt, investigators said. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Her aunt was was reported in critical condition at County USC-Medical Center on Sunday with neck wounds, officials said.

"The motive for the shooting is in all likelihood the usual gang retribution drive-by shooting and the victims were innocent victims," police Lt. Rob Watters said, adding that there were no suspects.

"At first, I thought it was firecrackers," said Melda. "Then I looked down and I saw my aunt lying on top of my sister. I didn't want to believe my sister was dead."

Neighbors, who heard the gunfire, rushed outside and found Melda screaming at her dead sister, "Don't die! don't die!"

About a dozen pellets crashed into the downstairs apartment of Jose and Maria Vedal, who were watching television. Bullet fragments damaged kitchen furniture and shattered a mirror in the living room. "Luckily, we were all on the floor and none of us got hit," Jose Vedal said.

Shooting at Gas Station

Elsewhere, a 16-year-old suspected gang member was fatally shot Saturday night as he stood next to his car in a gasoline station at Florence Avenue and Figueroa Street in South-Central Los Angeles.

Sgt. Stacey Koon said Jesus Gutierrez was shot just before 9 p.m. by a gunman believed to be a member of a rival street gang. Gutierrez died two hours later at an Inglewood hospital. No arrests were made.

Gunshots were fired in a fight between two rival gangs on a San Pedro street corner at about 11:15 p.m. Saturday, killing Ronald Rand, 28, of Long Beach, investigators said. Rand was not believed to have been a gang member, but his companions were, officers said.

Sergio Gutierrez, 28, was in critical condition after being stabbed by gang members at a party early Saturday at Treasure Island Park in Downey, police said. A 15-year-old boy was arrested in the incident.

Two other suspected gang members, Luis Chavez, 21, and Jose Leon, 18, were killed in separate incidents Friday night.

Chavez was run over by a car and killed as he tried to run away from a fight that broke out in Bell, sheriff's deputies said.

Leon was killed and two others were wounded in a drive-by shooting in South-Central Los Angeles, police said.

In another incident with gang overtones, a man was killed Sunday after two robbery suspects led police on a high-speed chase and then slammed head-on into the victim's car.

Killed in the collision at 49th Street and Broadway was Carlos Diaz, 24, of Los Angeles, police said. The driver of the car being pursued, Anthony Francisco, 22, was booked on suspicion of murder in the jail ward at County-USC Medical Center, where he was in serious condition. His associate escaped.

"The guy (Diaz) was totally innocent," Sgt. David Young said. "And then, with him lying there, the paramedics cut the suspect's (Francisco) shirt off to treat him and there were his gang insignias."

Young said officers had tried to stop Francisco's car on Normandie Avenue after a license check showed the car had been used in a recent robbery.

Late Sunday, LAPD officers arrested four men and two teen-age boys, all believed to be gang members, on suspicion of attempted murder in the shooting of a woman at the Chevy Chase Park Recreation Center in the Atwater area.

Lillian Montanez, 56, of Los Angeles, the mother of 10 children, was hit in the wrist and was treated at a hospital.

Sgt. Paul Herman said the woman confronted the suspects, who were creating a disturbance at the center, and asked them to leave. They returned later and shot her, he said.

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