Three gang members have been charged in connection with the shocking Jefferson Park shooting death of a 19-year-old Marine on leave from Camp Pendleton.
A statement the L.A. County District Attorney's Office described the killing as "committed in association with, or for the benefit of, a criminal street gang." Lance Cpl. Carlos Segovia died in a hospital about three days after the late-night attack Sept. 16 at 31st Street and South St. Andrews Place.
Prosecutors believe Segovia "exchanged words" with one of the gang members before being shot inside the Dodge Charger he was driving, according to the DA's statement. Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Peter Whittingham said the Marine was on his cellphone and behind the wheel when he was attacked, causing him to crash into a parked car.
Detectives have a recording of Segovia's last call, in which gunshots can be heard, the captain said.
The violence shocked the up-and-coming neighborhood west of USC, where home values have been skyrocketing but where gangs are still active. Prosecutors didn't name the gang involved. Segovia, who had been visiting a friend in the neighborhood, had come to L.A. for the weekend.
Segovia organized volunteers to help the homeless in his free time, family and friends said. A crowdfunding page set up in his memory states that he "volunteered in the community, serving the homeless population. ... He was the epitome of strength and resilience, and continues to be an inspiration to us all."
Suspects Oscar Aguilar, 26, and Esau Rios, 28, face murder charges, prosecutors said. Ricky Valente, 18, is accused of being an accessory to murder after the fact. The felony complaint filed against the trio alleges Valente harbored Aguilar and Rios so they could avoid arrest.
Aguilar also was charged with suspicion of being a felon with a firearm and "dissuading a witness by force or threat," prosecutors said in their statement. They allege that he was the trigger man.
Aguilar has a record of assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism, making criminal threats and drug trafficking, DA's officials said. If successfully convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison, they said. Rios could see 50 years; Valente faces the possibility of seven.
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Recommended bail was $1 million for Valente, $3 million for Rios and $4.23 million for Aguilar. Arraignment was postponed until Nov. 30.
An LAPD detective working on the case said a news conference is planned for Nov. 17. More details about a possible motive were expected then, he said.
With reporting from City News Service