Gunman Sought in Brothers’ Deaths

Gunman Sought in Brothers’ Deaths
The two teens were slain in what officials call a gang-related attack. East L.A. neighborhood mourns the loss and denounces violence.

By Veronica Torrejón
Times Staff Writer

July 30, 2005

Authorities were searching Friday for a gunman who allegedly shot two teenage brothers while they shopped at a minimarket in East Los Angeles — an attack that sheriff’s officials said was gang-related.

Tony Lopez, 18, and his brother, Anthony, 14, were shot multiple times by the gunman after he confronted them in the Indiana Market about 5 p.m. Thursday, said Deputy Tania Plunkett, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. The younger boy died at the scene and his brother died about two hours later at County-USC Medical Center, she said.

The gunman, who was last seen fleeing the market on foot, was described as in his 20s, about 5 feet 6, and wearing a white T-shirt, Plunkett said. She declined to discuss details about the shootings or why authorities believed the incident was gang-related.

Relatives of the victims denied that either one was involved in a gang.

The boys had just left their house to walk to the store in the 500 block of Indiana Street to buy some snacks when their uncle, Javier Torres, heard several gunshots, he said.

Torres, who lives next door, said he and the boys’ father ran to the store, where they found the teenagers lying on the floor. Torres said both had been shot in the head.

“I was hoping and praying it wasn’t them,” he said. “It was so terrible. I’m still trying to wake up from this nightmare.”

Torres said the brothers, who had eight other siblings, shared a room in the family house and were best friends.

He said Anthony, a ninth-grader at Garfield High School, was a good student and worked part time with his father at a family construction business. Anthony was nicknamed “Bobby” as a child because he looked like the young boy on the Saturday morning cartoon “Bobby’s World,” he added.

“Bobby was loved by everyone around here,” Torres said. “He was a good boy. There were a lot of young ladies around here that were in love with him. They would say he was a little cutie pie.”

Tony Lopez “was a little on the bad side,” said his cousin Ben Moreno, who declined to elaborate, “but he didn’t deserve this.”

“He was a good kid; he wasn’t a troublemaker,” said Moreno, who also denied that either of his cousins was in a gang. “Tony was going to school; he wanted to get himself straight.”

Near the home where mourning family members gathered Friday, neighbors and friends set up a makeshift memorial with flowers and a picture of the two boys alongside statuettes and votive candles.

Fastened to a wrought-iron grate above the memorial was a Dodger shirt that belonged to Tony Lopez, who once dreamed of playing professional baseball. Friends nicknamed him “Dodger” because of his fierce allegiance to the team, Moreno said.

Also hanging on the grate was an oversized white T-shirt that bore a hand-written inscription: “I Love You, Dad & Mom. In Loving Memory of Bobby and Tony. Brothers.” A heart-shaped balloon read, “I Love You. Today, Tomorrow, and Forever.”

A steady stream of family, friends and neighbors paused at the memorial Friday afternoon to light candles and reflect on the violence in the community.

“I just wanted to pay my respects,” said Priscilla Duran, who had picked up her 13-year-old son from a nearby school and stopped by the memorial to light a candle. “It’s just sad that people have to use weapons to make a point.”

Duran, 50, worked for a local gang-prevention group after her husband was shot in the early 1980s. She was eight months pregnant with her eldest daughter at the time.

Twenty years later, she said, gang violence continues to plague the neighborhood.

“Something needs to happen here. We need more community projects and involvement. My heart goes out to this family,” she said. “There is no worse pain than losing a child, much less two.”Â

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