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Witnesses See Man, 21, Slain Execution-Style

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

As terrified witnesses watched from their homes, an unidentified assailant put a gun up to a 21-year-old man’s ear Saturday and pulled the trigger, killing him.

Police identified the victim as Carlos Cuevas Curiel of Santa Ana and said late Saturday that they have no suspects and know of no motive in the 5:35 a.m. slaying.

Investigators were still at the murder scene Saturday night, and information was sketchy.

But witnesses said Curiel was with a group of six young men walking toward a parked van in the 300 block of North Susan Street when the group was confronted by a man with a drawn handgun. As the gunman approached, the men in the group ran in different directions, witnesses said.

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Three men from the group, including Curiel, ran north along Susan Street, witnesses said, but a bullet struck Curiel in the leg or foot, causing him to fall to the sidewalk.

According to one witness, the gunman then walked up to Curiel, put the pistol to his head and shot him through the right ear.

The witness, who watched the murder from a window, said the gunman then jumped into a dark-colored all-terrain vehicle and calmly drove away.

Another resident said that as the gunman approached Curiel, the victim’s brother yelled from behind a bush-covered wall, “Don’t shoot him! Don’t shoot him! Please give me the gun!”

Another witness said he had been asleep when he heard four loud bursts.

“I heard a pop, pop, then another round,” he said. “I stayed in bed for a minute, then when I got out here, I looked around and saw him on the sidewalk. He was all bloody.”

The attack frightened residents, who watched as police investigators searched for clues throughout the day.

“I have lived in this neighborhood for 15 years, and this is the first time this happened,” one resident said.

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