Boy, 14, is fatally shot in Rampart district

Police believe he may have been targeted because he was affiliated with a tagging crew.
By Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 7, 2007

A 14-year-old boy’s association with a tagging crew may have led to his fatal shooting in the Rampart area near downtown Los Angeles, police said Tuesday.

Rene Vargas was gunned down about 8:15 p.m. Monday in the 1300 block of West 7th Street by a man who got out of a black sport utility vehicle, said Det. Fred Faustino of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Vargas was shot several times in the upper body; he collapsed near the intersection of 7th and Witmer streets, police said.

After the shooting, the gunman jumped back into the SUV and sped away, police said. Vargas was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The victim was not a gang member.

But LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said Vargas may have been targeted because of his association with taggers.

“The boy was affiliated with a local tagging crew and the shooter saw him as a rival,” Smith said. Investigators are seeing more violence associated with tagging, he said.

“Unfortunately, tagging crews are more and more behaving like gangs, and some are associating with gangs,” he said.

LAPD officials this year placed a one-time tagging crew on their list of the top 11 gangs targeted by the department.

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