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3 in Teen Gang Held in 2 South-Central L.A. Deaths

September 24, 1987|SIOK-HIAN TAY | Times Staff Writer

Three teen-age gang members were in custody Wednesday in connection with two murders committed two hours and eight blocks apart in South-Central Los Angeles earlier this month, police said.

The victims--a grandmother returning home from a trip to a neighborhood store and a man leaving a fast-food restaurant--were both shot to death during robbery attempts Sept. 8, police said.

Two 15-year-olds were arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of murder. A 16-year-old was already in custody on an unrelated charge.

Two Were Armed

Police said two of the youths--one armed with a knife and the other a gun--confronted Adrian Salazar about 9:30 p.m. as he left a fast-food restaurant at 50th Street and Central Avenue.

Salazar, 30, "was just up from his table" after a burger-burrito dinner with a friend on the restaurant patio when the suspects demanded money, then shot him in the chest when he refused, witnesses and police said.

"With one hand over his heart, I see him falling slowly" and trying to support himself by clutching a pole with his other hand, said restaurant manager Peter Licomitros. Salazar died before he could be taken to a hospital.

Two hours later, the youths, joined by a third suspect, allegedly accosted Juanita Lee eight blocks away at 46th Street and Avalon Boulevard as she entered her car after leaving a convenience store across the street, police said.

Change Purse Taken

Lee, 43, was shot once in the back of her head and the three fled with a change purse that she carried tucked in her clothes, police said.

"(The double slaying) was pretty cold-blooded, but not really unusual in an area where you have 100 (homicides) a year," said Homicide Detective J. D. Furr of the Police Department's Newton Division.

The youths, whose names were not released because they are juveniles, belong to a street gang that operates "in the 40s between the Harbor Freeway and Central Avenue," Furr said.

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