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Man Charged in Fatal Shooting of Gang Member in Pacoima

January 11, 1990

A Los Angeles man was charged Wednesday in the death of a 17-year-old boy who was fatally shot in a Pacoima park, possibly in a dispute over stolen ice cream, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Lorenzo Ramirez, 26, who lives near downtown Los Angeles, was being held without bail at the Foothill Division on a charge of murder, Detective Marshall White said. He was arrested Tuesday night following a lengthy investigation of the Nov. 28 slaying at Paxton Park of Joseph Tapia of Sylmar, police said.

Benjamin Flores, 29, of Van Nuys, who was with Ramirez during the shooting, also was arrested Tuesday but was released uncharged Wednesday.

"We determined he was not a participant in the shooting," White said. "He will be a witness in the case."

Police said the victim, a gang member, was passing through the park at Haddon Avenue and Paxton Street, and Ramirez and Flores confronted him after he took ice cream from a pushcart vendor without paying.

During the confrontation, Ramirez drew a handgun and shot Tapia, who was unarmed, police said. Ramirez and Flores ran to a nearby car and fled.

Tapia was taken by friends to Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where he was pronounced dead.

White said it was unclear whether the confrontation was over the stolen ice cream. He said words were exchanged between Ramirez and Tapia but it had not been determined what was said.

Detective Al Ferrand said investigators were led to the suspects through information from witnesses, a description of the getaway car and other evidence he did not disclose. He said the gun that was used has not been found and detectives also were unable to locate the ice-cream vendor.

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