Two young men killed while neighbors marched in an anti-violence parade a mile away were probably slain in a gang dispute, said residents of the building where the shooting took place.
The two men, Jaime Palomares Jr., 19, and Rafael Renteria, 24, were shot about 8 p.m. Tuesday as they stood in the parking lot behind an apartment building on Saticoy Street near Van Nuys Boulevard.
Palomares was pronounced dead at the scene, and Renteria died a short time later at Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.
Witnesses said an unidentified man got into an argument with the victims, shot both of them and ran off. The shooting occurred about a mile from a march held as part of the annual National Nights Out Against Crime.
Los Angeles Police Lt. Richard Blakenship of the Van Nuys Division said the department has no evidence so far to prove the shooting was gang-related.
But building manager Sandra Ortega believes it was gang-related.
Steve Martinez, a former gang member who has worked to preserve a truce among Latino gangs in the San Fernando Valley, said he also was uncertain about the motive in Tuesday’s killings but thinks the truce remains intact.
“They’re still calling us to try and solve problems,” Martinez said, referring to gang members who are participating in the truce. Over the weekend, more than 100 gang members attended a meeting in support of peace, Martinez said.
Even so, there have been 27 gang-related slayings in the Valley so far this year, compared to 29 in 1994, said Lt. Fred Tuller, who heads the LAPD Valley Bureau’s gang unit.
Martinez and others working to maintain the truce said some of 1995’s gang violence has been caused by gangbangers who are outside the truce.
Friends of the victims and residents of the building spent part of Wednesday comforting each other. Others stared blankly at the spot where the manager washed away the blood of one of the victims.
Abel Farias, 16, a longtime friend of Renteria’s, said the dead man enjoyed baseball and classic cars, adding that Renteria would frequently visit the building to spend time with him and another friend, 14-year-old Alex Rodriguez.