Two reputed members of a Latino street gang known for attacks on blacks were charged Tuesday with capital murder and a hate crime in the killing of a 14-year-old African American girl.
Ernesto Alcarez, 20, and Jonathan Fajardo, 18, both of Los Angeles were arraigned at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Long Beach on counts of murder and attempted first-degree murder in the Dec. 15 fatal shooting of Cheryl Greene.
Both are charged with the special circumstances of murder to further a gang and murder based on race, which make them subject to the death penalty, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Goudy.
The case will be turned over to the district attorney's Hate Crimes Unit, which will decide whether to seek the death penalty, he said.
The crime occurred in the 20600 block of South Harvard Boulevard in Los Angeles after two Latino men approached a group of black people. Alcarez allegedly pulled a gun and fired several shots, killing Greene, Goudy said.
Two women and a man received minor wounds in the afternoon attack, and three other people escaped injury.
Alcarez and Fajardo are alleged to be members of the 204th Street gang in the Harbor Gateway area. The Latino gang has a history dating back to the mid-1990s of hate crimes against blacks, ranging from racist graffiti to murder, Los Angeles police say.
In 2002, alleged gang member Marco Milla was convicted of murder and five counts of attempted murder after firing into a group of black people, killing one man at a liquor store near 204th Street and Harvard Boulevard.
The gang claims the liquor store as its territory and blacks have long considered it off-limits, say police and community members.
Greene's death sparked a rally Saturday of more than 100 people, many of them African Americans, who walked down 204th Street to the liquor store.
"It was an act of defiance," said Najee Ali, a participant and community activist. "Anyone from the community should have the right to walk and shop wherever they please."
Ali said the gang's numbers had declined recently, but that blacks in the area feared the gang would regroup.
"This is a very vicious and cruel gang who has shown a tremendous hatred toward blacks in that community," he said.