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Man Sought in Slaying of Teen-Age Neighbor : Violence: Suspect flees after allegedly shooting into crowd over a dispute about a volleyball net. Another youth was wounded.

July 15, 1993|PHILIP P. PAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EL MONTE — Sheriff's investigators Wednesday were looking for an El Monte man who allegedly opened fire on a crowd of his neighbors earlier this week, killing one teen-ager and wounding another, following an argument about a volleyball net blocking his driveway.

The shooting took place about 10 p.m. Sunday as Alfonso Maldonado, 33, was trying to back his pickup truck out of the parking lot of the apartment complex but was blocked by a group of neighbors playing volleyball, sheriff's spokesman Robert Stoneman said.

Maldonado was arguing with the group and apparently became upset because they were taking too long to move the net, Stoneman said. He allegedly pulled out a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun and fired several shots out of his truck at the crowd of about 25 adults and children.

Oswaldo Lopez, 17, who lived upstairs from Maldonado, was pronounced dead at Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina at 10:32 p.m. Sunday from a gunshot wound in the back of his head, Stoneman said.

Jesus Morfin, 19, of San Pedro, hit in the right hand and right shoulder, was listed in good condition Wednesday at the same hospital and was expected to be released.

El Monte police and sheriff's homicide detectives said Maldonado may have been accompanied by his wife, Laticia, and four children. The family apparently left the apartment complex in the 3900 block of Cogswell Road during the confusion after the shooting.

The victim's father, Armando Lopez, said his son was trying to protect his 5-year-old brother, Hugo, during the shooting. "He wanted to cover him. He called his friend over and told him to take his brother away."

Lopez, a sheet operator who moved to El Monte two years ago, said Oswaldo enjoyed singing and dancing, especially to Mexican music. He was the eldest of five brothers and a sister.

"He was an average student, but he was a good son," his father said.

Family members and neighbors placed pink flowers and a candle on the police chalk outline marking where Oswaldo fell. His bloody shirt and baseball cap, both printed with the insignia of the local high school, were also left on the pavement.

Several youths, including Oswaldo's siblings, milled about the parking lot Monday afternoon, quietly talking about the shooting.

"He was a good person; never got in trouble. He was always helpful, doing things for people," said Maria Angelo, 17, a neighbor and schoolmate. She said the youth was planning to join the soccer team next fall.

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