The husband of a pregnant woman who was shot and killed Tuesday had been trying to quit a heavy drug habit and might have had drug debts that led to the attack, the man's drug counselor said Wednesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives Wednesday continued investigating the shooting of Sandra Loya, who was eight months pregnant when a gunman shot her in the back Tuesday as she stood in front of her home. Her husband, Pedro Loya, was shot and injured in the attack.
Pedro Loya, 33, began attending drug counseling sessions at United Pentecostal Church about five months ago in anticipation of his fifth child, which he hoped would be a girl, said Paul Stuckgart, a church counselor.
"He was a user, but he was trying to cut down," Stuckgart said. "I think he just got a little too far in debt and wanted to pay it off, but they wanted it in a lump sum."
Sheriff's deputies said they had not established a motive for the shooting. Pedro Loya was released from Suburban Medical Center in Paramount on Tuesday night, a spokeswoman said.
Investigators said two men drove up to Loya's stucco house at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The passenger got out of the dark-colored 1982 Buick Regal, walked up to the short chain-link fence surrounding the house and shot Sandra Loya once from less than 20 feet away, authorities said.
When the gunman returned to the car, it sped down the street to pursue Pedro Loya, who was walking with his four children near the intersection of Adams Street and Fairmont Avenue. Two of the children, who were on bicycles, raced across the street into the loading area of a Pacifica Insulation warehouse, said Norie Jiminez, the company's owner. Pedro Loya quickly followed, rapped on an office window and shouted at Jiminez to call the police.
Jiminez said he turned to make the call and heard three gunshots. Pedro Loya was hit once in the leg. The other two bullets slammed into the walls of the office.
Loya fell to the floor and crawled behind the loading area's entrance to take cover, Jiminez said. The car carrying the gunman sped away.
At the Loya home, just down the street, neighbors rushed to the aid of Sandra Loya, who had celebrated her 32nd birthday Sunday.
"She was crying," said a 15-year-old girl who asked not to be identified. "I could hear her take a breath when we said her name. After that, the ambulance came."
The couple's two boys and two girls, whose ages range from about 6 to 13, are in the care of their mother's sister, said a woman who only identified herself as a cousin.
And Stuckgart said Loya recently began considering being baptized and wanted to reform his life.
"He had a dream that his kids had come up to him and said, 'It's either us or the drugs,' " Stuckgart said.