Two 16-year-old gang members, including a leader of a major Central American gang in the Pico-Union area, have been arrested in the drive-by shooting death of an 11-year-old girl and the wounding of her aunt last weekend, Los Angeles police said Tuesday.
The teen-agers, both Salvadoran immigrants who belong to the same gang, were arrested separately Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning and booked for investigation of murder, said Lt. Rob Watters of the Rampart Division.
The names of the suspects, who are being detained at Eastlake Juvenile Hall, were not released because of their ages. Investigators declined to elaborate further on specifics about their gang.
Detectives were seeking two other gang members in the shooting, Watters said.
Relatively Quick Capture
The age of victim Jasmine Guevara was instrumental in the relatively quick capture of suspects, Watters said. It spurred many in the outraged community to provide officers with tips on the suspects and focused police and media attention on the shooting.
Jasmine Guevara was walking home from a liquor store with her aunt, Blanca Guevara, 42, and her 14-year-old sister, Melda, when she was gunned down by shotgun blasts in the 1800 block of Orchard Avenue.
Melda Guevara was not hurt, but several shotgun pellets hit Jasmine and her aunt, killing the girl and leaving the older woman seriously wounded. The shots fired Saturday night were meant for rival gang members who were standing nearby, Watters said.
Police found the stolen red Chevrolet Camaro used in the drive-by shooting in the 2500 block of 11th Street on Monday morning.
‘They Were Scared’
“It’s unusual for (gang members) to torch a vehicle,” Watters said. “They were scared.”
Later Monday, a leader of the gang walked into the Rampart Division station.
“He came in here to string us along; to give us information on others in the gang. And we were able to get enough information to realize he, himself, was involved,” Watters said.
The gang leader was taken into custody. Police subsequently were able to locate and arrest the second suspect as he left his home Tuesday morning.
Inside the home, officers found two 12-gauge shotguns believed to be the murder weapons.
In an unrelated incident, a 17-year-old boy who escaped with seven other youths from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall on Saturday surrendered to police Tuesday. Dennis Haven surrendered to police in a Crenshaw District law office as his family sobbed in the background.
Haven notified his family about 30 minutes after he escaped, relatives said. They contacted the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People to help negotiate his surrender.