2 die in separate shootings in SB

Jason Pesick and Robert Rogers, Staff Writers

SAN BERNARDINO – Two men, an 18-year-old and one 42, were shot and killed in separate incidents over the weekend on the city’s Westside.

Marshawn “Derrick” Hampton, 18, of San Bernardino, was killed in a drive-by shooting Sunday in the 1500 block of West Alturas Street, near his home.

“This is not a random shooting,” said San Bernardino police Lt. Scott Paterson.

The shooting took place around 9 p.m., and Hampton was pronounced dead at San Bernardino Community Hospital, officials said.

Hours earlier, on Saturday around 11:30 p.m., Matias Castillo Lomeli, 42, also of San Bernardino, was pronounced dead by paramedics in the 1200 block of West Congress Street, where police responded to reports of shots fired, officials said.

Sunday’s victim, Hampton, would have been 19 in December and does not appear to have an adult criminal record in San Bernardino County.

Paterson said he was a member of a gang, and he was listed on the CalGang law-enforcement database.

“He’s a local gang member; they’ve run into him before,” Paterson said of the officers.

Friends and family gathered near the corner where Hampton was killed said he was not a gang member.

Bullet holes pocked the gray cinderblock facade of a subsidized housing unit, just to the right of the door. Hampton never made it inside. The fatal bullet felled him on the small concrete porch.

Less than 24 hours later, on Monday, the porch was adorned with candles and multicolored balloons. About 10 family and friends, all women, some with small children, clustered around the porch and talked in hushed tones.

Shirley Keegan, Hampton’s aunt, stood expressionless by a massive oak tree, its trunk bearing the scars of Sunday night’s gunfire.

“He was important to us, we loved him,” Keegan said. “This isn’t some gang-related killing in a poor black neighborhood that is going to go unsolved. The police need to find the person who did this.”

Keegan, like others at the vigil, described Hampton as an avid sports fan who liked to play basketball and football. They said he had a longtime girlfriend who was in high school. His mother and father live separately in the Westside neighborhood, and he had always been fond of his grandmother.

“She is so hurt by this, in a lot of pain,” Keegan said.

Hampton did not graduate, Keegan said, instead spending some time in court-ordered youth camps.

“I was trying to get him into the CCC (California Conservation Corps),” she said.

People at the makeshift vigil said Hampton had been standing near the curb with a group of friends, talking, Sunday night. An argument had occurred between two other men earlier in the evening, they said, with one stalking off angrily.

“He came back and shot the place up,” Keegan said. “Derrick was just an innocent bystander.”

Hampton had a younger brother and a twin sister, said Raynieka Barnes, 21, who identified herself as Hampton’s older sister.

Barnes, her face streaming tears, said Hampton was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She disputed that Hampton was a gang member.

“There’s a difference between gang banging and living in the hood,” Barnes said. “He wanted to get out, he wanted to do something, he just hadn’t figured things out yet.”

The tree-lined blocks of these housing units have been notorious for bloodshed in recent years. Locals call the neighborhood “The Projects,” and the street on which Hampton was slain is known as “A-block,” a moniker that owes its origins to prison vernacular, said E.J. Ford, 55.

Ford added that another victim, a girl or young woman, was injured when she was hit with bullets or bullet fragments Sunday night.

Ford said shots were heard in the neighborhood the night before, a grim portent of the bloodshed to come.

“It’s really bad out here,” Ford said, sitting on his porch. “I knew all day something was going to happen.”

Discussing Lomeli’s death, Paterson would not release details but said, “I don’t believe that it was just somebody who looked and said `Let’s shoot this guy,”‘ he said.

“There appears to be some kind of communication,” Paterson added, but he would not say whether Lomeli knew who shot him.

Lomeli’s son, Ricardo Mercado Preciado, 23, said he heard three shots, separated by a few seconds, shortly after his father went to the store to buy beer.

He said he thinks the shooting started as a robbery because police didn’t find his father’s wallet.

“He didn’t deserve the way he died,” Mercado Preciado said.

He described his father as a soccer fan who liked to tell jokes.

“He was like our light,” he said.

Lomeli’s elderly mother was in town from Mexico to visit at the time, but the family hasn’t told her how her son died.

He said his father, who moved to the United States from Jalisco two decades ago, was having financial problems and was worried he was going to die.

Only a few days before he died, Mercado Preciado said his father told him he was the man of the house and to take care of the rest of the family.

“But we never thought that he was going to die like that,” he said.

Lomeli’s household also includes his wife, 42-year-old Luz Elvira, daughter Alejandra Mercado Preciado, 25, son Carlos Ivan Lomeli, 16, daughter Janely Guadalupe, 10, and a niece he was raising, Joabana Perez, 2.

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