"He was always happy, real pleasant, real nice," she said. "We're stunned. We just think it's such a waste, because he was nice, and he was so young."
A teen-aged boy was arrested and charged with the murder. The case is still pending.
FEB. 5 12:08 A.M.: Shot in the Back
Aurelio Navarette, 20, is shot in the back in a drive-by attack on Artesia Boulevard in Buena Park. He was pronounced dead on arrival at La Palma Intercommunity Hospital 40 minutes later. His brother, Otoniel, is wounded in the arm.
Navarette's death certificate lists him as a Buena Park High School student, but school officials say he had left several years ago.
Police say the brothers belonged to the Buena Park "Eastsiders." Two alleged members of the rival "One Way" gang in Norwalk, aged 15 and 17, have been charged. That homicide case, too, is still pending.
FEB. 23 10:33 P.M.: \o7 5 Shots From a Pickup\f7
Jesus Perez, a 21-year-old janitor, is a passenger in a car driving south on Rene Drive in Santa Ana when a pickup truck carrying several people passes them going in the other direction and fires at least five shots. Perez is struck in the head. Brain surgery fails to save him and he dies four hours later.
Perez had come to the United States four years ago from Mexico, and his body was sent back to Zacatepec for burial. Police do not have a suspect.
FEB. 24 7:51 P.M.: \o7 Bullets Spray a Family\f7
Salvador Villa Arias, 18, is standing with several family members outside his home on West 5th Street in Santa Ana when a red pickup truck drives by. A gunman in the back sprays the group with at least six bullets, and one hits Arias in the back of the head.
Police believe Arias was a gang member, but his mother, Teresa Villa, said her son didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't wear gang colors and did not have friends in a gang. But family members noted that the notorious 5th Street gang controls an area on the other side of Euclid Street, away from their neighborhood.
Arias had recently left Los Amigos High School to work as a gardener. His body was returned to Michoacan, Mexico, for burial.
The day after the shooting, police arrested Steven Joseph Salazar, 23, of Santa Ana. Though investigators identified him as a gang member, they declined to specify which gang. One investigator said he has found gang members who save their press clippings in photo albums and view them as a status symbol.
MARCH 4 8:10 P.M.: \o7 Argument at a Dance Studio\f7
Ha Huu Dang, 21, is shot in the head in the restroom of Jimmy's Ballroom Dance Studio in Garden Grove. Police said Dang was not a gang member but had argued with three young men who were.
Born in Vietnam, Dang had graduated from high school and moved to Orange County two years ago. For the past six months, he had been working on an assembly line at Starkey California in Anaheim, making hearing aids. His former boss, Keith Stifter, described Dang as "easy-going, willing to help, kind of a happy-go-lucky guy. Never really seemed like anything bothered him."
A woman who worked at the dance studio said Dang had come there every week or two with a group of friends. "After the shooting, his friends never came back," she said.
Police say they have a suspect but have not made an arrest.
MARCH 15 11:21 P.M.: \o7 A Bystander Panics\f7
Margarito Alvarado-Robledo, 25, a dishwasher in the Mi Ho Restaurant in Garden Grove, is in the kitchen putting away leftovers when a gunman demands money. According to the owner, Alvarado-Robledo panics and tries to run, and the robber shoots him in the neck. Police believe the robber is a gang member, but have not made an arrest. Details are sketchy, and Garden Grove Police Capt. David Abrecht said the case may not ultimately be classified as a "gang-related homicide."
Alvarado-Robledo fought for life for seven days before he died. According to his death certificate, he had completed elementary school, had been in Orange County for two years, was married and lived in Stanton. His body was sent to La Esperanza, Mexico for burial.
Speaking through a Korean interpreter, the owner, Chung W. Choi described Alvarado-Robledo as a "very good employee, very honest and hard-working." Choi said he had immigrated four years ago from Seoul, and the killing so frightened him that for a time he contemplated returning to South Korea.
MARCH 19 12:11 A.M.: \o7 Confrontation in a Store\f7
David Eugene Davenport, 31, walks into a Circle K convenience store in Garden Grove to buy cigarettes. Davenport, who had lost his job and apartment and was trying to find work, befriended the night clerk. He accuses two young men of shoplifting. According to Garden Grove Police Det. Mike Handfield, the three men argued briefly and stepped out of the store together. Then the younger of the two shot Davenport in the face. He died instantly.