A 21-year-old Army veteran who returned stateside in recent months after serving in Afghanistan was fatally shot near a party he was attending over the weekend, police said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that the festivities in Sylmar comprised a "homecoming" for Francisco Garcia. The LAPD said the event was organized by his "proud and happy girlfriend" and reported bride-to-be. However, reports indicate that it's not clear if it was indeed a party celebrating his return from overseas.
In any case, violence broke out before 2 a.m. yesterday "when the partygoers decided to move the party up the street" from the event's location in the 13200 block of Dronfield Street, police stated.
Here's the LAPD's account:
Francisco was standing on the west sidewalk, north of Astoria Street, when two cars stopped northbound. A Hispanic man exited a dark SUV, smashed a beer bottle on the ground and yelled at Francisco across the street. The man walked to a white Toyota or Honda behind the SUV and retrieved a handgun from an occupant, then started shooting.
The victim died at the scene, police said.
Cops don't believe suspects were at the party, but Lt. Paul Vernon says it is believed a "simmering dispute" from earlier in the evening precipitated the attack.
The ironies are obvious. To survive as a soldier in an overseas conflict, only to be killed in your old neighborhood upon your return.
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Although he was reportedly honorably discharged from the Army as the result of an injury, Garcia is said to have been headed to the California Highway Patrol academy.
He also wanted to start a family, according to reports.
Loved ones, neighbors and even fellow veterans who live zip codes away attended a roadside memorial for the vet last night.