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Halloween Party in Compton Ends With Death of 2 Youths : Crime: Teen-agers are fatally shot by two men carrying assault rifles. Police say gang warfare may be involved.

November 02, 1994|ISAAC GUZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Standing in the middle of a now-quiet Compton street, Danayne Ashorn holds a 9-millimeter shell casing that may have been wrapped around the bullet that killed her son, Frank. A thick swath of dried blood remains on the sidewalk where he died.

Ashorn's son, Frank Isaac Martinez, 14, and his friend, Jose Zermeno, 15, attended a Halloween party Monday night called "Monsters in the Closets." A recording directing people to the house in the 1200 block of North Spring Street requested that party-goers "come in peace. We don't want no snappers (troublemakers)."

But despite that plea, Frank and Jose were slain by two men carrying semiautomatic assault-style rifles, police said.

About 11 p.m., Frank and Jose were standing on the sidewalk in a group of about 10 people when two African American men dressed in black walked by and fired into the gathering, police said. Frank died at the scene and Jose died later at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

A gang war between rival black and Latino gangs has been going on in the area for more than a year, according to community activist Lorraine Cervantes. Compton police detectives believe that the shooting may have been gang-related, but they did not know if Frank or Jose belonged to gangs.

Police offered few details about Jose on Tuesday and were even uncertain about the spelling of his name. Eyewitnesses said he was a student at Paramount High School. Administrators acknowledged that a student named Jose Zermeno was enrolled there, but would not say if he was the second victim.

Those who knew Frank, many of whom gathered with his mother at the place where he died, said he was not a gang member. Instead, he and his friends described themselves as a "party crew" called Mind Events that promotes underground parties featuring house music.

"We just kick back with a couple of friends," said Elena Torrez, 18. "It's not a gang or a clique. Just friends looking out for each other."

"He loved music," his mother said. "When he was younger he loved baseball, football and wrestling. But lately all he wanted to do was go dancing and listen to music."

Ashorn said the sharpest pain comes when she recalls that police officers would not let her hold her son's body in her arms.

"He looked so frail," she said. "He didn't look like my son. He had a hat on and I lifted it up and looked into his eyes. They were full of hurt and fear."

*

Family friends say Frank, a freshman at Compton High School, was a bright spot in everyone's day. He was the only one who could make his half brother, Little Frankie, stop crying. On Tuesday morning, his 2-year-old brother called out "Kiki, Kiki," not knowing that his older brother would not be there. "Whenever I came over mad and hurting, he'd do something to make me laugh," Annette Moreno said. "He'd tell me a joke and make me feel better, and then he'd tell me I owed him money for it."

Frank's mother said she was also sorry that he did not get to know his father, Frank Sr., better. They were reunited in June after a 10-year separation.

"He was just getting to know him," Ashorn said. "But now his father has been robbed of his son. We're all robbed. They robbed us of our joy."

Compton police continued to look for suspects Tuesday. Ashorn urged anyone who has information to come forward.

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