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Man Shot Dead, 7 Others Hurt in Party Melee : Gangs: Drive-by shooting caps night of violence during New Year's celebration.

January 02, 1991|KRISTINA LINDGREN and KEVIN JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

PLACENTIA — One man was killed and seven others wounded early New Year's Day when a gang fight erupted at a party in the city's La Jolla barrio and spilled onto the street, triggering sporadic violence that continued for almost 2 1/2 hours.

The dead man was identified as Jack Cisneros, 33, a landscape maintenance worker who was killed in a drive-by shooting that witnesses and relatives said came in apparent retaliation for the brawl that started a few blocks from his home.

Cisneros, the member of a large clan that has lived in the neighborhood for more than 75 years, had no connection to gang activity and was "truly a victim," police said.

His wife was in the hospital recovering from delivering twin boys on Saturday when she was told of her husband's death Tuesday morning. In addition to the twins, the couple has an 8-year-old son, a 3-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son that Cisneros had by a previous relationship.

Family members said Cisneros had been baby-sitting his children that night and had walked to a cousin's house up the street to see what had caused the trouble in the neighborhood. On his way back, he stopped in a driveway to talk with several neighbors when a single shotgun blast was fired from a dark sedan, witnesses said.

"He was smiling at the time they shot him because one of the guys had just told him a joke," said Ysabel Cisneros, 65, the dead man's father.

The shooting capped a night of violence that erupted at 12:23 a.m. in the 800 block of Nebraska Avenue when a fight broke out during a New Year's Eve party that witnesses said attracted as many as 100 guests.

Police said they arrived to find four adults and two youths scattered "up and down the street" with stab wounds, none of them fatal.

Placentia Police Sgt. Russ Rice said officers called on police departments in Anaheim and Fullerton for help and, together, they brought the fight under control.

Those injured in the knife fight were identified as Paul Moctezuma, 26, Alex Chinchilla, 20, Armando Moreno, 18, all of Placentia, Ruben Castillon, 19, of Anaheim, and two 16-year-old boys believed to be from Placentia.

Officers left the neighborhood but were called back to the same street at 1:49 a.m., when a 17-year-old boy from Orange was found with a bullet wound in his lower right leg. Police were on the scene when they heard the fatal shotgun blast that killed Cisneros two blocks away in the 900 block of Tafolla Street at 2:50 a.m.

Witnesses said a small, dark car stopped in front of half a dozen people who gathered in a driveway on Tafolla Street to talk about the fight. Someone in the car shouted what one witness said was a gang slogan, then fired a shotgun at the group. The blast hit Cisneros in the upper chest.

"We were just talking," said Lionel Padilla, who was standing in a semicircle with Cisneros when he saw the flash of the shotgun blast. "A car cruised by real slow. . . . The people in the car shouted out some gang saying and then they fired."

Padilla said he was not sure how many people were in the car, which sped off northbound on Tafolla.

"I feel bad because he was a real good friend," said Padilla, 20, a warehouse receiving clerk. "It's the neighborhood, you know."

Cisneros had been walking back from the house of his cousin, Adolph Cisneros, when he stopped to chat with Padilla and others in the driveway.

"He wasn't even drinking or partying. He was just trying to find out what had happened," said Adolph Cisneros, 39.

The injured were taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, UCI Medical Center in Orange and Placentia-Linda Community Hospital, where they were reported in fair condition. Rice said their wounds were not life-threatening.

Rice said no arrests have been made in any of the incidents, and authorities do not know what touched off the violence.

"We are just trying to sort all of this out," Rice said.

One La Jolla neighbor, however, said it all started when one guest, apparently drunk, drew a gun and pointed it in the air as the clock ticked toward midnight.

Johnny Castellon, 33, who was at the party when the melee broke out, said several guests from the La Jolla neighborhood tried to make the man put the weapon away. Things calmed down briefly, but soon afterward gang slogans and hand signs were exchanged. Arguments soon broke out and fights started.

"Everything was cool for a little while. But it broke out again and then everybody wanted to fight," Castellon said.

Several men at the party tried to get the women away from the house. Castellon said other people tried to flee out the front door when one man was stabbed in the back yard. They were met, however, by party-goers from Orange who waited in the front yard with guns.

"That's when hell raced through the whole street," said Castellon, who used to work with Cisneros at the county parks department. "We boxed our way out of there."

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