Girl, 16, Killed in Shooting

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 16-year-old girl died from a gunshot wound Tuesday morning after she and two friends were sprayed with bullets on a Long Beach street in what police are investigating as a gang-related shooting. A Long Beach man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

After making a call from a phone booth at the corner of Rose Avenue and East 10th Street, Laura Gaviria and two friends also from Long Beach were crossing the street about 10:30 p.m. Monday. They suddenly faced a fusillade of gunfire from a darkened frontyard about 20 feet away, said Long Beach police spokesman David Marander.

Shot once in the head, Gaviria fell to the pavement. Adrian Hernandez, 19, also collapsed, shot in the buttocks and arm. A bullet struck the rubber shoe sole of a 16-year-old boy, who police did not identify, and he was not injured.

Gaviria was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Marander said. Hernandez was treated and released Tuesday from the same hospital.

Police Monday night arrested Hipolito Sanchez, 29, who was seen running from the scene, Marander said. Sanchez was being held on $1 million bail at the Long Beach city jail.

"We are definitely looking at this as having a gang connection," said Marander, though he would not elaborate. Friends said Gaviria, a student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, lived in the neighborhood where the shooting happened. They said she had come to Long Beach about five years ago from Colombia.

Gaviria "was using the pay phone to call a friend who was having a baby," said a friend who asked not to be identified, fearing gang retaliation. "They were checking on her. That's the kind of person she was. She was very, very caring."

Sanchez's girlfriend, Angelica Sumeta, insisted he has never been involved in gangs. "I know he didn't do it," said Sumeta, who lives with Sanchez within blocks of the shooting.

The friend of Gaviria said she thought the shooting occurred because of mistaken identity: "Probably the shooter thought my friends were involved, because the boys had on baggy pants and maybe they had on the wrong colors. . . . Here, clothes means everything."

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