Infant victim of gang shooting is laid to rest
About a dozen people showed up at St. Vincent Catholic Church in South Los Angeles on Monday to console Luis Angel Garcia’s mother, view the tiny casket holding her baby and hear the funeral Mass. It took only two pallbearers to carry the casket at the end of the 30-minute service.
Luis’ death has reverberated throughout Los Angeles as city officials and residents try to make sense of how a 23-day-old baby became a victim of gang violence.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the slaying and its causes were a “top priority,” and the Los Angeles Police Department initially devoted 20 detectives to the case.
Luis was shot dead 10 days ago near 6th Street and Burlington Avenue, near MacArthur Park. Three members of the 18th Street gang walked into a Saturday night crowd of hundreds and shot 37-year-old Francisco Clemente, a street vendor who reportedly refused to pay $50 in “rent” to the gang, authorities said. Clemente was hit by several bullets and was hospitalized in critical condition.
One bullet struck the infant, who was there with his mother. She has not been publicly identified.
“This little angel is now in heaven,” said Father Ruben Restrepo, who presided over the Mass.
At times, Restrepo spoke directly to Luis’ mother as if no one else were in the room, and told her that though violence claimed her son’s life, prayer and good deeds could eventually overcome the tragedy.
She wore a white shawl over her head and wept as the casket was covered in white cloth, sprayed with holy water and then blessed with incense. A private burial followed.
The Rev. Howard Dotson, who organized a memorial service on 6th Street last week, was one of the pallbearers and hugged Luis’ mother tightly at the end of the service.
“I can’t even imagine what she must be going through,” Dotson said in a previous interview.
Police arrested Luis Silva, 19, last week in connection with the killing and said they were seeking other suspects.
At least four officers attended the funeral. They asked residents near MacArthur Park to come forward with details of the shooting or any experiences with gang extortion.
People with information can call (213) 485-2531, or after hours at (213) 485-3261.