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Trying to Figure Out a Senseless Slaying : Crime: The parents of a young boy, who was bright, energetic and ambitious, try to come to grips with his fatal shooting by two men in a car. One suspect is being held.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thirteen-year-old Eulises Carranza Pineda was determined to achieve the success that his Mexican immigrant parents had not.

He studied hard in school and, after classes, helped his father collect enough recyclables to keep food on the table of their family’s cramped, one-bedroom apartment. One day, Eulises had vowed to his family, he would become a lawyer and return to his beloved Mexico in style.

But Eulises’ grand dreams ended in a hail of gunfire Sunday night as the youngster was shot and killed outside his apartment complex in the 600 block of North Sabina Street. On Monday, the boy’s parents tried to come to grips with the tragedy.

“I ask that God accept my son,” said the father, Abraham Carranza, 52. “But I want to put the people who killed him in jail.”

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Eulises was mortally wounded in a drive-by attack that police say was precipitated by a fight over a broken car window. Four men standing near the boy were wounded, none seriously.

Police Monday arrested Christopher Edward Perez, 25, of Anaheim after an all-night stakeout of his apartment. Perez was being held in Anaheim City Jail on suspicion of murder, with bail set at $250,000. Police said they were still looking for a second man in the shooting.

Witnesses said two men in a beige-colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo drove slowly down an alleyway behind the apartment at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. They said a passenger in the car fired between 10 and 15 rounds from a 9-millimeter pistol into a courtyard where Eulises and about 20 other men, women and children were milling about.

Jesus Gomez, 44; Jesus Gomez, 25, no relation; Mario Cruz, 23, and Hernan Cortes, 32, were wounded as they drank beer and talked. The older Gomez suffered two gunshot wounds in the legs and was taken to Anaheim Memorial Hospital. The other men were taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange and Western Medical Center-Anaheim. All were listed in satisfactory condition Monday.

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Carranza said he had instructed his son to go out in the courtyard and pick up some bottles shortly before the shooting occurred. A neighborhood friend, Juan Dukue, 14, said Eulises was stooped over, putting the bottles into a plastic bag when he was shot in the side. He ran a few steps and collapsed, Dukue said.

The boy’s father, hearing the gunshots, ran outside, gathered his son up in his arms and brought him indoors while his wife telephoned for an ambulance. Neighbors said Carranza cried aloud as he carried his bleeding son. The youngster later was pronounced dead at Anaheim Memorial.

“I don’t understand why they killed him,” Carranza said. “My son didn’t hurt anybody.”

The shooting was triggered by an altercation between the men in the passing vehicle and some others who live in the apartment complex, Police Lt. Ray Welch said.

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Ramon Farias Barajas, 34, a friend of the wounded men, said the men in the car were angry because they suspected that someone who lives at the apartments had broken a windshield on one of their cars. Barajas said a fistfight broke out several hours before the shooting.

Welch said that while none of the victims is involved in gangs, it was not clear Monday whether the two shooting suspects are.

Eulises moved with his family to this country five years ago. Like many other immigrants in the same apartment complex, Eulises’ family came from a pueblo in the impoverished state of Guerrero, where jobs are so scarce and wages so low that many were compelled to journey north in search of a better life, Modesto Pineda, the dead boy’s uncle, explained.

According to his family, Eulises took to life in the United States with enthusiasm, gaining an English proficiency in only three months. As a seventh-grader at Sycamore Junior High School this year, Eulises excelled in his favorite subject of mathematics and carried average grade scores overall, Sycamore Principal LaFrance Terrell said.

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After his father suffered a disabling back injury in a construction accident about two years ago, Eulises began helping him support the family, which includes Josefina, 39, the mother, and three girls ranging from 6 months to 10 years old. Father and son worked together to collect cans and bottles to recycle.

The living room floor where Eulises had been laid was stained with blood as his parents sat on a couch and were consoled by a stream of friends. Many thrust dollar bills into the hands of Josefina Pineda to help defray the estimated $4,000 that it will cost the family to transport the boy’s body back to Mexico, where they want to bury him. As of late Monday, the family had collected $1,200.

Ironically, Carranza said, the family was preparing for its annual trek back to Mexico later this month. They had even gone out Saturday to buy new clothes.

“He wanted to become a lawyer,” Josefina Pineda said, “so he could go back to Mexico and get a good job.”

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