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Shot Kills Senior at Kennedy High as He Drives Car

May 09, 1987|CLAUDIA PUIG | Times Staff Writer

A high school senior returning to his home early Friday was shot and killed as he drove along a residential street in Pacoima, Los Angeles police said.

Police have no suspects or witnesses and know no motive in the shooting death of 17-year-old Michael Coco, a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, Lt. Al Ferrand said.

Coco was less than a mile from his Mission Hills home shortly after midnight when a single bullet apparently passed through the windshield of his 1969 Volkswagen and struck him in the chest, Ferrand said. He then crashed into a car parked in the 13700 block of Weidner Street, where police responding to a report of gunfire found his body slumped behind the steering wheel.

Relatives and friends said Coco must have been the victim of a random shooting. They described him as a popular student who was not involved with gangs or drugs.

"We're just baffled," said his brother, Richard Eugene Coco, 23. "We just don't understand why this happened. We can't figure out why somebody would shoot him."

Coco said that his brother may have been returning from a visit to a cousin in Pacoima and that "he just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police said their preliminary investigation found no evidence that the youth had enemies or associated with the wrong crowds.

Kennedy High Principal Jim Ball said Coco had never caused trouble. And a friend, Kelly Marshall, 16, said, "I've never seen him involved in fights or anything."

Students at Kennedy High said a play being performed Friday night and their yearbook would both be dedicated to Coco, who had planned to go to Pierce College to study computers and hoped to someday work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

He was described as a popular student--one friend called Coco a "really cool guy"--but also someone sensitive enough to befriend the shyest person in his class.

Coco's classmates spent the morning with counselors sent in by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

"The school is in shock," said Cindy Escalante, 17, a longtime friend of Coco.

"We went through three boxes of Kleenex," teacher Tyra Seymour said. "A lot of the kids were upset that they hadn't told him how much they liked him."

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