Etsael 'Tito' Cardenas, 21-Year-Old Echo Park Resident, Shot Dead While Reportedly Listening to Music in His Car

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Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge The victim. - TITO CARDENAS VIA FACEBOOK
LAPD detectives are stumped as to why 21-year-old Etsael Cardenas, Jr. -- an Echo Park resident who went by "Tito" -- was murdered in his car early Sunday morning, while parked on West Kensington Road near Echo Park Terrace.

His friends and family, too, were stunned by the shooting. They told KCAL9 that Cardenas was just listening to music in his car around 1:40 a.m., like he often does, when they heard gunshots outside.

Worried, his father went to check on him 20 minutes later...

... and discovered Cardenas slumped in the driver's seat with two bullets in his chest. (ABC7 reports that Cardenas' father "heard him arguing with someone prior to the gunshots.") He was rushed to the hospital, where he was soon pronounced dead.

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Detectives at the LAPD's Rampart Station tell LA Weekly that they don't have any evidence the shooting was gang-related, and that no suspects have been identified in the three days since the shooting. "We could really use the public's assistance," says one officer.

Witnesses can call the LAPD's 24-hour tip line at (877) 527-3247.

Just three hours before he was shot dead, Cardenas wrote on his Facebook profile, "Should I drink or not?? O.o"

He's listed as a 2008 graduate of Belmont High School in Westlake. His photo albums show he was very into his car -- always working on it, drawing sketches of it, taking it to the car wash, etc.

After the freak shooting on Sunday morning, an apparent co-worker of Cardenas' wrote on Facebook:

Rest in peace to my boy/Co worker Tito that work with me at MCL fresh only 21 he lived in Echo Park. Just found out he got shot over the weekend by a gang that had nothing better to do! May God watch over his family in this time of mourning.

"He was our only brothers," Daisy Cardenas says to ABC7. "We're four girls, and he was the one to take care of us, so this is really hard for us." Another of the victim's Facebook photos shows he may have also had twin sisters who died a while back.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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