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‘We are heartbroken': Hundreds mourn slain Marine at vigil

Vigil for slain Marine
Lucia Godoy, a friend of Carlos Segovia, attends a vigil held for Segovia, the 19-year-old Marine who was shot while visiting friends and family in South Los Angeles.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Since her 19-year-old son was shot over the weekend, Sandra Lopez has been asking, “Why?”

Carlos Segovia had recently joined the Marines and held the rank of lance corporal. He was known for volunteering his time to help those who were less fortunate.

On Friday about 11:30 p.m., Segovia was found with a gunshot wound to his head in his black Dodge Charger in the 2100 block of West 31st Street, police said. Segovia had just left his girlfriend’s house and was on his way to a family friend’s home for the night. It’s unknown whether someone walked up to his car or shot from another vehicle. 

The killing has puzzled detectives, who are still trying to figure out a motive for the attack. Segovia didn’t have any connections to gangs or other illegal activity that would make him a target, they say. Police are trying to determine whether Segovia, who was on a weekend leave from Camp Pendleton, might have witnessed a crime before he was shot.

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“There’s speculation on different things that may have happened,” said Los Angeles police Det. Matt Courtney. Courtney said Wednesday that there’s not “a significant amount of people coming forward.”

“We don’t operate in a bubble, we don’t solve murder cases by magic,” Courtney said. “We need people to come forward and provide information and do the right thing.”

Officials on Tuesday night announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the killer as hundreds gathered to pay their respects near the shooting scene.

As mourners waited for Segovia’s mother to arrive, people placed flowers and candles at the foot of a telephone pole. The smell of sage filled the air as a man wearing a green Marines T-shirt tacked an American flag to the pole. When Lopez arrived, layers of people parted to let her through. She slowly walked to the front of the crowd and paused, staring at the candles with tears in her eyes before speaking in front of the TV cameras.

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Lopez called her son a man with a passion to give. He worked with the homeless and with rescue dogs, and had committed to a life of service with the Marines. Over the past few days, Lopez had to see her son, a born fighter, struggling for his life.

“My only boy,” Lopez said at a vigil held Tuesday night in honor of her son. “My wonderful boy who was killed. I have no idea how I’m going to live without him.”

Hundreds attend a vigil Tuesday for Carlos Segovia, 19, a Marine who was shot while visiting friends and family in South Los Angeles.

Eric Marshall met Segovia through work with LA on Cloud 9, a group that helps the homeless and animals, and said he was the “epitome of the strong, silent type,” one who had a penchant for helping others.

“This man was no ordinary person,” he said.

Marshall said Segovia had a way with animals and called him the “dog whisperer.”

“We are heartbroken over this tragedy,” LA on Cloud 9 said. “We were fortunate to witness Carlos become a fine young man who graduated from the Marine camp earlier this year and started his service with the U.S. Marines.”

Segovia, who was born in El Salvador, came to the U.S. with his mother. Both are U.S. citizens, Claudia Perez, a family friend, said. 

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The overwhelming support and prayers we witnessed in support of this young man are a testament to the mighty son, friend and warrior that he was.
U.S. Marine Corps statement

The U.S. Marine Corps said Segovia’s current assignment was at the student reconnaissance training company. He had earned the National Defense Service Medal and certificate of commendation.

A statement from the Marine Corps said that his death weighed heavily on everyone’s hearts.

“The overwhelming support and prayers we witnessed in support of this young man are a testament to the mighty son, friend and warrior that he was,” the statement said.

“Although we grieve the loss of one of our own, we will continue to stand with and support Carlos’ loved ones as they work through this tragedy. In a very short time, [Segovia] deeply impacted those who came to know him and his unselfish and honorable legacy will live on in our Corps. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

Lopez called for people in the community to speak up.

“He wanted to give his life to people,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve this.”

Near the end of the vigil, a man played  taps on a trumpet as men and women began to cry.

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Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (323) 786-5110. Those who wish to remain  anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

Twitter: @nicolesantacruz

Times staff writers Veronica Rocha and Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.

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