The 17-year-old son of former boxing champion Bobby Chacon, who like his father grew up on the hardscrabble streets of Pacoima, was identified Friday as the victim of a gang-related slaying at a Panorama City parking lot, police said.
Bobby Chacon Jr., known by most acquaintances as Chico, was fatally shot Thursday afternoon in the Montgomery Ward parking lot at the Panorama City Center, police said. Arturo Reynoso, 18, of Pacoima, who was with Chacon, was also shot but not seriously injured, police said.
Police said that as many as four suspects fled from the 4:45 p.m. incident, and they had not been identified by Friday afternoon.
Police said the two victims were members of a Pacoima gang and may have accidentally stumbled upon a group of rival gang members while outside their own turf.
"We feel we have a gang-versus-gang thing," said Sgt. Dennis Zine. "But we don't know exactly what happened."
Chacon lived with his grandmother in the Van Nuys Pierce Park Apartments and formerly attended Maclay Junior High School. He was a gifted athlete and was popular with other students, Vice Principal Don Ryan said.
Crisis counselors were at the school Friday talking with students who were distraught after word of the slaying spread.
"This was a very difficult day for some students here," Ryan said. "He was a member of this community for a lot of years, and many of the students knew him."
Ryan said acquaintances of the two victims told him at the school Friday that Chacon and Reynoso had been going to the department store to apply for jobs.
Chacon's slaying added another chapter of tragedy to his family's history. His mother, Valerie, committed suicide nine years ago after becoming upset because Bobby Chacon Sr. would not retire from boxing.
The elder Chacon's long career, which included two titles, also was marred by skirmishes outside the ring. He grew up in Pacoima and, according to early news accounts, acknowledged joining a gang. However, Chacon credited his wife, Valerie, with urging him to take his fighting out of the streets and into the gym.
"I grew up with trouble," he told People magazine in 1983. "Life, it ain't the prettiest place to be."
Chacon's professional boxing career began in 1972 with 19 straight victories. He later won the World Boxing Council's featherweight and super-featherweight crowns.
Chacon, now 39, continued to fight into the 1980s, moving from the San Fernando Valley to central California, and remarrying three times after Valerie Chacon took her life in 1982.
He was put on probation in 1984 after being convicted of beating his second wife. In 1987 he was sentenced to six months in jail in Oroville, Calif., for violating that probation after investigators found alcohol in his house and a trace of marijuana in his urine.
Chacon Sr. could not be located for comment.