"No one has a reason," said Lt. John Fletcher, the Westside anti-gang coordinator for the Los Angeles Police Department. "Whoever you talk to has a different opinion about what caused the first shooting, and of course, it was all retaliation from there."
Fletcher and other authorities suspect that Sevilla could have been killed as a payback for some other altercation.
"There are attempts at truce negotiations," said Lorenzo Merritt, executive director of Project Heavy West, an outreach group that counsels gang members, "but everyone is walking on eggshells."
With its power base in the Mar Vista Gardens housing project, the Culver City Boys gang has long been tied to much of the gang-related bloodshed on the Westside.
Traditionally, the group has been the rival of the Latino gang in Venice. But after the two sides forged a truce in 1992, they began to go to war with the local black gang.
During the ensuing violence, which left at least 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded, the Culver City Boys were suspected of firebombing three Mar Vista Gardens units where African American families lived.
Federal authorities, in a 1995 racketeering case, alleged that the truce between the Culver City and Venice gangs, as well as some of the violence against African Americans, was orchestrated by Mexican Mafia prison gang members. The gang was attempting to control narcotics trafficking by street gangs on the Westside and other areas, prosecutors alleged.
Throughout the Pico neighborhood in Santa Monica on Wednesday, the mood was much more tense than usual.
On Delaware Avenue just off 17th Street, half a block from where Cruz was shot Oct. 18, five younger gang members didn't want to discuss the feud in detail.
"This . . . been happening for years, but now people are dying," said one.
Times staff writer Robert Lopez and correspondent Susan McAllister contributed to this story.
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Santa Monica Shootings
1. Oct. 12: Omar Sevilla, 22, killed, Pico Boulevard near 6th Street.
2. Oct. 12: Horst Fietze, 50, killed, 1600 block of Appian Way.
3. Oct. 17: Juan Martin Campos, 28, killed, 20th Street and Pico Boulevard.
4. Oct. 18: Javier Cruz, 25, wounded, 17th Street and Michigan Avenue.
5. Oct. 27: Michael Juarez, 27, and Anthony Juarez, 19, killed, two others wounded, 2200 block of Lincoln Boulevard.