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After Shooting Death of 4-Month-Old Baby, A Plea for Help
Councilmember Tony Cardenas next to a photo of victim Andrew Garcia | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
It was baby Andrew Garcia's baptismal celebration the morning he was shot and killed*. Earlier and just a few blocks away at a city park, a large party was held for the 4-month-old child.
It happened around around 1 a.m. on Sunday on Kittridge Street in Van Nuys. Andrew, his mother and a friend, who was pregnant, were sitting in a parked car outside a family friend's house. The friend, 28-year-old Anna Contreras, was feeding Andrew while the father and Eric Ramirez, 18, stood outside. Two young men walking by got into a verbal exchange with them, which escalated with several shot gun rounds fired at the family. Ramirez and Contreras, were injured, but are expected to survive. And while Contreras' unborn baby was unharmed, Garcia died with a bullet to the head.
"While all deaths are tragic, this strikes an especially tragic cord on a life," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a press conference this afternoon. "As we mourn the loss of innocent life here, we must reaffirm our steadfast commitment to fighting gang crime and gun violence with more resilience, with more determination and with even greater resources.... the bullets unleashed yesterday [will not] go without consequence."
Councilman Tony Cardenas speaks at a press conference at the LAPD Van Nuys Division station this afternoon | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
Councilmember Tony Cardenas said he will introduce a motion tomorrow rewarding any tipster leading to the arrest of the suspect with $50,000. "We need to make sure that everyday that we all do what we can to make sure that little Andrew is the last innocent loss to this senseless gang killing."
Although Andrew's father has a minor gang association, one detective said "his criminal record is very minor and there's very little that would suggest any involvement his part that would cause this." Ramirez, however, is a documented gang member.
Chief Michael Moore, who leads the LAPD's Valley Bureau, explained that more officers have been reassigned to the Van Nuys Division "as an effort to restore the peace, to give this community some sense of control." He said that the San Fernando Valley is seeing a double digit reduction in violent crimes and a 28 percent reduction in gang crimes within the Van Nuys Division. In 2002, the Valley had seen 49 gang-related homicides year to date. This year, there have been 18, including Garcia's.
The two suspects are described as 18-20 year old Hispanic males with shaved heads. Anyone with information about this crime or the suspects is asked to call Van Nuys Area Homicide detective James Nuttall or Marc Martinez at (818) 374-0040. During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” Tipsters may remain anonymous.
*Although police said it was Garcia's baptismal party, police are now saying that "the party had been a family gathering and was not related to his own baptism party. We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused."