Hail of Bullets Ends a Life of Privilege : Young San Marino Man Slain on Pasadena Street Thought He Was Invincible

Times Staff Writer

Everything about life in San Marino taught David Young that the world was good.

The dangers of the big city seemed far away from the elegant, palm-lined street where his devout Mormon parents had raised four children in a stately, Spanish-style home.

At San Marino High School, where nearly 99% of students go on to college and test scores exceed those of 99% of the state's schools, Young summed up his four years as a varsity tennis player by choosing "I did it my way" as his yearbook quote.

Even when he left home to attend a Brigham Young University campus in Hawaii and later to play tennis for a West German team, he exuded an invincibility his friends said came from living in the manicured, upper-class enclave.

"He would just say: 'I'm from San Marino. I don't give a damn,' " said Alan Oberlander, a friend from high school. "You have to live here to understand. All the people are nice, they all have nice homes and they don't have to struggle. There was nothing for him to worry about."

But as the blond, blue-eyed 21-year-old drove a motorcycle along a winding stretch of road in Pasadena last week, the unpredictable ugliness of the outside world shattered that protective shell.

It was after midnight Wednesday, and Young was headed south on Arroyo Boulevard toward a late-night grocery store. His friend, Alan Harlan, also 21, rode on the back of the Kawasaki Ninja.

The headlights of a white Mustang began to pull closer to them, but neither of them paid it much attention.

"David had no sense of evil," said his father, Jack Young, a certified public accountant. "In that sense, he was just as innocent as a newborn baby. He didn't know that you talk to the wrong people and they can blow you away."

At least seven gunshots exploded from the car as it passed the motorcycle, Pasadena police said. No words or gestures were exchanged. The bike crashed. Four bullets hit Harlan. Three were lodged in Young.

"I think I'm going to die," Young cried, according to what his father said he learned from Harlan. "I'm dying, I'm dying."

"Don't die, dude," Harlan pleaded. "Don't die."

But Young, the free-spirited class clown whose good-natured cockiness had earned him the nickname "God," was mortally wounded. He died about 1 a.m. on a grassy area by the side of the road, just south of the Rose Bowl.

No Motive at First

Harlan, who had been living at the Young family's home for the previous four days, was taken in critical condition to Huntington Memorial Hospital. His condition had improved to serious by the time he was moved to an undisclosed location on Saturday.

At first, police had no motive and described the incident as a drive-by shooting--the 70th of the year in Pasadena. It soon became clear to detectives, however, that someone was after Alan Harlan.

"Dave was a joy boy," said David Kaplan, another of Young's high school friends. "He probably just went along for the ride. Anything that came up that sounded fun, he would go . . . usually without looking at the consequences."

The case began to break when Raed Abujaber, 21, of Pasadena turned himself in to police Saturday morning.

He told officers that he was the driver of the white Mustang but that he didn't know why his passenger wanted to talk to the man on the back of the motorcycle they spotted on Arroyo Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Wesley Rice said.

Abujaber's story "is that he had no idea there was going to be a shooting," Rice said. "According to him, he was very stunned and didn't know what to do."

Other Person Identified

Along with information from another witness, police determined that the other person in the Mustang was Eric Beauchamp, 21, whom they arrested Saturday at his Highland Park home. His father, Tom Beauchamp, a Glendale insurance agent, said, "I honestly don't think so," when asked by a reporter if his son would have committed such an attack.

Eric Beauchamp had been arrested on a drug charge in April, 1987, and was convicted of selling marijuana to students at South Pasadena High School, said South Pasadena Police Lt. Joyce Ezzell.

On Tuesday, Beauchamp and Abujaber pleaded innocent in Pasadena Municipal Court to charges of murder and attempted murder. They were being held Wednesday in Los Angeles jail without bail.

"We have reason to believe Beauchamp was involved in narcotics and was upset with the surviving passenger, Mr. Harlan," Rice said. "Mr. Young had nothing to do with the grievance. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Not that Young was exactly an angel, his friends said. Despite pleadings from his parents to follow a more righteous path, he had his fair share of wild times. A fun night out, friends said, meant finding a club with reggae or new wave music, drinking a few beers and maybe lighting up a joint.

Alan Harlan, however, apparently had more serious problems, including a recent breakup with a girlfriend, friends said. It was those problems that led David Young to offer his family's home as a refuge on the Saturday before the shooting, Jack Young said.

As he did whenever a friend stayed for the weekend, David Young told his parents that Harlan would join them at church that Sunday. But in the morning, while the Youngs attended services, Harlan slept in.

'Not in Good Shape'

"He was not in good shape at that point. I thought maybe we could influence him, but I'm kind of naive too, I guess," Jack Young said. "It's painfully clear now, isn't it? If Alan hadn't been here, this wouldn't have happened."

But, then, that was the David Young that everybody knew: generous, carefree, fun-loving and totally innocent.

"When I found out, I called some of his friends, just shouting and screaming: 'Why did you leave David alone? Why didn't you take care of him?' " said Greg Panas, 27, the tennis pro at Tennis Club Enzberg near Stuttgart, where Young spent the month of June. "He was young. He trusted everybody. Dave didn't know what bad was."

It was an innocence that could be easily maintained in San Marino, where Jack Young and his wife, Gayle, a real estate agent, brought their children from Altadena 10 years ago.

The city is a picturesque expanse of broad lawns and wide streets, home to the majestic Huntington Library and Gardens, and always ranked among the wealthiest communities in Los Angeles County.

"I don't know that anyone can live in San Marino without feeling a little sheltered," said Russell Dixon, a family friend and a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Pasadena.

"I think people there try to protect their families and maintain proper values." Dixon said. "David was on the innocent side. He was sheltered, of course. But in the church, we believe a young person doesn't have to touch fire to know that it's hot."

Lessons Early in Life

David Young learned early in life that he didn't burn easily. As an eighth-grader, his friends said, he once climbed through the window of a school bus headed to Disneyland, even though he hadn't participated in the magazine sales drive for which the trip was the reward.

In high school, where Young was known for his free-wheeling antics, he once excused himself from class to go to the bathroom, ran to a nearby restaurant, and returned to seat with a slice of piping hot pizza and a Coke. Another time, friends said, he hopped fully clothed into the school's swimming pool and returned to class dripping wet.

"Even the teachers would kind of have to laugh," said his friend, Oberlander. "Everything worked out for him. I always figured he'd win the lottery or something."

On the tennis court, where he was once ranked 999th in the world, Young was somewhat more serious. He was the No. 3 player at Pasadena City College in 1986. At Grossmont College in San Diego, where he was a sophomore last year, he was No. 1. In West Germany, on the clay courts that seemed to favor his long baseline strokes, Young won all six of his matches this summer.

Whenever he lost, he displayed the same good-humored bravado as he did off-court, flashing an incredulous grin even to a superior player.

"It was like he couldn't believe he had lost to anybody," said Brian Chambers, his high school tennis coach. "But he always said it with a smile. . . . I think he felt he was immortal. That's why this all comes as such a shock."

It came as shock to the friends who last week built a makeshift shrine by the roadside where Young was killed--leaving flowers, a small American flag and a green tennis ball.

And it came as a shock to the 800 people who filled the South Pasadena Mormon church last Saturday, remembering Young as a compassionate and gentle man.

"You just get a different feeling growing up in San Marino," said his high school friend Kaplan. "I really think Dave thought he was invincible, that nobody could hurt him. It was like he was living in his own little world."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World