Gang Slaying of Youth Tied to Mistaken Identity

Times Staff Writer

A 16-year-old Sylmar youth was killed Monday morning in San Fernando by four assailants, apparently in the mistaken belief that he had killed a member of a gang they associated with, authorities said.

The attackers chased Jimmie Torrez in their car until he fell off the back of a motorcycle, then beat him and shot him in the back, authorities said. Torrez was found at Second Street and Hubbard Avenue about 12:30 a.m., police said.

The slaying, the first this year in San Fernando, was being investigated by police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Shortly after the shooting, three men and a teen-ager were arrested on suspicion of murder and were being held without bail at the San Fernando Jail. Sheriff's Deputy Chris Wahla said the adults were Albert Martinez, 20, of Lake View Terrace, and Manuel Madrigal, 22, and Robert Flores, 23, of Pacoima. The name of a 16-year-old Pacoima youth was not disclosed.

Authorities said Torrez apparently was the victim of mistaken identity. "The guys who chased him down thought he had killed a friend of theirs," San Fernando Police Sgt. Michael Harvey said. "But he was not a suspect."

The earlier killing occurred several weeks ago in the Pacoima area, Harvey said. The victim was a gang member and the four suspects in the Torrez killing were associated with the same gang, he said. Police said they had no information on whether Torrez belonged to a gang.

Rammed Motorcycle

Authorities said Monday's shooting occurred after the four suspects, who were in a car, saw Torrez riding with a friend on a motorcycle. They intentionally rear-ended the motorcycle, and a short chase began, police said.

The motorcyclist rode over a curb onto a sidewalk, Wahla said, and the jolt threw Torrez off the back. The attackers stopped, grabbed Torrez and punched and kicked him, the deputy said.

Torres tried to flee but was knocked down, police said. "One suspect went to the car and got a rifle," Wahla said, and "shot the victim several times while he was down on the ground." The attackers fled in their car. Torrez was pronounced dead at Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. His friend was not hurt.

Witnesses described the car to police and the vehicle was seen in the 600 block of Brand Boulevard, about half a mile from the shooting, Wahla said. A .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle believed to have been used to kill Torrez was recovered after police saw it thrown from the car. The suspects were arrested without incident.

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