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Girl Details Horror at Scene of Fatal Shooting : Crime: Assailants flee after disagreement leaves two men dead and a third wounded in Orange. Young witness says she pleaded for mercy as her little sister ran for her life.

November 13, 1994|GREG HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ORANGE — A 14-year-old girl who begged for her life was spared by assailants who shot three of her friends, killing two and critically wounding one in a sudden attack heard by residents of a quiet cul-de-sac, the youth and authorities said Saturday.

The young girl frequently broke into tears as she recounted the brazen shooting of three men as they congregated around a car on North Highland Street Friday night.

"I thought they were going to shoot me," the teen-ager said in Spanish. "I said to them, 'You know me, I'm your friend. I'm a woman.' I said, 'Please don't kill me.' "

The girl's younger sister, who fled as the attack occurred, also escaped injury, the two youths said.

Neighbors said they heard at least a dozen gunshots followed by the teen-ager pleading with the attackers.

"I heard a woman screaming, 'No! No! Not me!' " said a man who asked not to be identified.

Police confirmed that the 14-year-old was in the car in the 2000 block of North Highland when 19-year-old Julio Damian Cerroblanco and 21-year-old Jorge Orozco were shot and killed around 9:30 p.m. by gunmen with whom they had been arguing. A third victim, 19-year-old Jorge Avalos, was in critical condition at UCI Medical Center in Orange Saturday. The victims, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds to their heads, were residents of Orange, police said.

The girl was sitting inside the car at the end of the cul-de-sac with two of the victims, while her sister and another victim were outside the car at the time of the attack, police said. The victims had been arguing with the suspects via a third party who was acting as messenger, said Police Lt. Timm Browne.

Police and witnesses said that after the final message was delivered, 22-year-old Maximino Garcia, his brother, 20-year-old Juan Jose Garcia, and a 17-year-old male charged out of an apartment. One of them repeatedly fired at the victims with a 9-millimeter handgun, according to authorities.

"I heard many, many shots. I don't know how many," the 14-year-old recalled Saturday. "I said, 'Please don't hit my sister.'

"I have a lot of fear (today)," she added. "I'm scared. My head and ears hurt. I can still hear the shots."

"The boys killed my friend," the younger sister said. "Then I ran."

Browne said the argument "just kind of escalated rather quickly. The suspects were in the apartment, the victims were outside and the argument was being carried on by a messenger."

Police said the shooters and victims knew each other, but declined to discuss details of the argument. Neighbors said tensions between the two groups had been simmering for some time, and that threats had been made.

The Garcia brothers had been living in an apartment on the street for the last two months but had not been involved in any previous altercations, police and neighbors said Saturday.

The victims' blood was still on the grass Saturday, as friends set up a small memorial of flowers and candles at the spot where they were shot. Neighbors were huddled together in groups, still talking about the shootings.

"Everybody's kind of surprised," said 60-year-old Robert Torres, who has lived on the street for 15 years. "This is a great neighborhood. Unfortunately, there were some people who came in from the outside looking for trouble."

Browne said the neighborhood, located near the Costa Mesa Freeway, has not been particularly violent in the past.

The shootings are the eighth and ninth homicides in Orange this year, police said.

The suspects remained at large Saturday and may be headed for Mexico, police said. According to investigators, they were last seen fleeing the area in a 1973 black or dark brown Mercury Cougar, with a California license plate of: 2YVA800. Anyone with information about the shooting or the suspects' whereabouts is asked to call Orange Police Detective Cathie Ralph at (714) 744-7575 or 744-7494.

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