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COUNTYWIDE : La Habra Man Slain in Gang Stabbing

An 18-year-old La Habra man was brutally stabbed to death and four other people were wounded by gunfire in Westminster and Placentia on Sunday in the latest wave of gang-related violence, authorities said.

Police found the body of Augusti A. Ruiz at 3 a.m. lying between two houses within three blocks of his South Euclid Street home, La Habra Police Lt. Joe Milazzo said.

Ruiz’s stabbing death marked the 18th killing attributed to gang violence in Orange County this year, police said. That figure surpasses the number of gang-related killings in all of 1989.

Witnesses to Sunday morning’s stabbing told police that Ruiz was attacked by at least two men, who chased him down East Pacific Avenue and cornered him in a grassy area between two darkened homes, Milazzo said.

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“He was in his own neighborhood,” Milazzo said.

Witnesses, who called police after hearing Ruiz’s screams, were unable to offer any descriptions of the attackers, Milazzo said. The incident, under investigation by police and the Orange County district attorney’s gang unit, was believed to have been sparked by gang rivalry. But investigators were unable to determine a motive.

In Placentia, Victor Hernandez, 19, of Anaheim and a 15-year-old boy were hit by gunfire just after midnight on Sunday while they were heading south in Hernandez’s mini-pickup truck in the 900 block of South Melrose Street, Placentia Police Lt. Chuck Babcock said.

Babcock said that as Hernandez drove the pickup truck through the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue, another car pulled up beside his and between four and seven shots were fired from a handgun.

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Hernandez was hit in the head by a bullet, while his passenger, whose identity was withheld because of his age, was struck in the leg, Babcock said.

The two victims were taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, Babcock said. The teen-ager was treated and released, while Hernandez was admitted to the intensive care unit where he was close to death, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Babcock said he did not know what had prompted the shooting, but investigators suspect that the incident was gang-related.

“There is no rational explanation as to why it occurred,” Babcock said, adding that no weapon was found in Hernandez’s truck.

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Babcock said an ongoing investigation is being hampered because police do not have a description of the other car and Hernandez is unable to speak.

Meanwhile, police in Westminster were looking for a black Ford LTD in connection with a shooting that left two people wounded, Westminster Police Lt. Andrew Hall said.

At 12:55 a.m. on Sunday, two teen-agers were standing in the driveway of an Olive Street house when the car, carrying three males, pulled up to the curb.

One of the occupants of the car opened fire, hitting the 17-year-old victim, a resident of Huntington Beach, in the ankle. He was taken to Humana Hospital-Westminster, where he was treated and released to his parents, Hall said.

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The victim, whose identity was also withheld, gave only sketchy information to investigators searching for the assailants’ car, Hall said. “He hasn’t been real informative.”

The second victim, whom the 17-year-old called Rudy and who had suffered unspecified wounds, had disappeared by the time police units arrived at the scene, Hall said. Investigators are also looking for him to provide them with information.

“We have not been able to find Rudy,” Hall said.


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