Lisa Cosenza, a longtime former Daily Pilot and Los Angeles Times advertising executive, died in a shooting Thursday in Aliso Viejo, Orange County Sheriff’s officials said Friday. She was 51.
Cosenza’s longtime boyfriend, Doug Ferguson, 59, also was fatally wounded.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of shots fired at 6 Ashbury Court in The Hamptons condominium community at about 2:50 p.m. Thursday.
Deputies arrived to find four people with gunshot wounds, said Jaimee Blashaw, public affairs manager for the Sheriff’s Department.
Cosenza and a man who has not been identified died at the scene. A 23-year-old man and a 48-year-old man were taken to a hospital in serious condition. They have not been identified.
Investigators are searching for 26-year-old Luke William Ferguson, who is suspected in the shooting. Authorities described him as 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds with a tattoo on his right shin that reads “90291,” the ZIP Code for Venice.
Authorities consider him armed and dangerous.
Investigators are trying to piece together what led to the shooting.
Cosenza’s former colleagues said she and Ferguson’s father, Doug, were in a long-term dating relationship. Cosenza helped raise Ferguson from when he was a teenager, they said.
Cosenza supported the family and, having no children of her own, looked at Ferguson as a son.
“She really loved him,” said Vilma Hidalgo-Cruz, an administrative assistant with Times Community News who used to report to Cosenza.
She said Cosenza often would speak about him in the office. “She was like a proud mom,” Hidalgo-Cruz said.
Colleagues remembered her love of the Cincinnati Bengals — her truck sported a large team sticker — and pride in her Italian heritage, to which she would say she owed her fiery personality.
“Seeing someone with that passion made it an inspiration to go to work,” Hidalgo-Cruz said.
Cosenza began working for the Daily Pilot in the advertising department in 1996, according to her LinkedIn profile. In 2004, she was promoted to director of advertising, a post she held until 2013. She also ran the Los Angeles Times ad operation in Orange County after the business operations of the two newspapers merged. (The Times owns the Daily Pilot.)
She was a fixture at area chamber of commerce events and rarely missed large community gatherings such as the Pilot Cup soccer tournament in Costa Mesa and the Toshiba Classic golf tournament in Newport Beach.
“She was just fun to work with,” said former Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson. “I think we had a special team at the Daily Pilot back then, and Lisa certainly contributed to that. We worked hard and we had fun.”
Cosenza studied communications at Cal State Fullerton and worked on the Saddleback College newspaper while attending the Mission Viejo campus. Before joining the Daily Pilot, she worked for PennySaver in Mission Viejo.
Cosenza competed fiercely and believed in the mission of the newspaper to deliver important local journalism, said Times Community News Executive Editor John Canalis.
“Lisa infused our old Costa Mesa offices with energy, passion and a pride knowing that the work done by her team helped fund the important journalism we were doing at the time,” Canalis said. “It seemed that the harder things got in the news business, and the more competitors that came at us in print and online, the happier she was to take them on.”