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Diego Garcia, Alfonso Nava, L.A. Homicides No. 37, No. 38: Two Men Shot Dead in Front of Friend's Residence in Exposition Park

By Ryan Deto

Two close friends, 25-year-old Latino Diego Garcia and 26-year-old Latino Alfonso Nava, were coming home from a party in the early morning of February 13 when they were shot and killed in the 1800 block of Leighton Avenue.

Both were standing outside their friend's house when two suspects, described in LAPD reports as black men in their 20s, approached the victims.

According to the Los Angeles Times, neighbors said Nava was shot while talking to his girlfriend on a cell phone.The bullet passed through the phone and hit Nava in the head. The coroner's office said he was dead at the scene.

After shooting Nava, the suspects chased Garcia up the steps of the house and shot him in the chest. Witnesses reported hearing another gunshot after Garcia had collapsed in the bushes in front of the house. Garcia died after being taken to the hospital by paramedics, according to the coroner's office.

The suspects shot a third victim, Alfonso Richards, in the chest and arm. He was taken to California Hospital Medical Center in critical condition, but investigators said was released the next day.

A friend of the victims and resident of the house where the shootings happened, Salvador Medina, questioned the response time and ethics of the LAPD, according to the Times. Medina said officers took more than 20 minutes to arrive at the scene, which he considered a long time since there was no traffic at 1 a.m., when the incident occurred.

The Times further reported on the shock the two murders had on the community:

As the sun set on Tuesday evening, a group of friends gathered at Medina's houce, mournfully staring at the candles that lined the sidewalk. Some had placed bottles of Corona at the memorial; others had placed cigarettes, magazines, a bottle of Patron and photographs of the victims. Beside the rosebush where Garcia collapsed, a much smaller cluster of candles burned - not too many, Medina said, because they didn't want the bushes to catch fire.

Even though Garcia and Nava were not known gang members, officials believe that the killings were gang-related.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, the LA Weekly's archive of all homicides within Los Angeles city limits was discontinued near the end of last year. We will be rolling out the 2011 homicides, one by one, until our "Murder was the Case" archive is up to date. Thanks for your patience.


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