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Boy Killed; Sister and Grandmother Wounded

Violence: Police seek the man who allegedly shot the three after an argument at his girlfriend's home in Alhambra.

April 24, 2001|NICHOLAS RICCARDI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Authorities were searching Monday for a 20-year-old man who allegedly shot his girlfriend, her 12-year-old brother and their grandmother during an argument before fleeing from the family's Alhambra home. The 12-year-old boy died of his wounds.

Daniel Arazaga, identified by authorities as the "on again, off again" boyfriend of 19-year-old Colleen Koppos, was still at large late Monday.

Koppos, who lived with her grandmother, brother and infant daughter in a gray stucco house in east Alhambra, had told neighbors that her boyfriend had held guns and knives to her head during jealous rages.

Koppos' grandmother, Bertha Tate, had ejected Arazaga from the home last week, neighbors said, but he returned Sunday. A dispute broke out during the evening, and Arazaga allegedly killed 12-year-old Timothy Koppos and wounded Colleen Koppos and Tate, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Marilyn Baker. Arazaga reportedly sped of in a gold Honda.

Tate was shot while holding Koppos' 7-month-old daughter, authorities said.

Colleen Koppos and Tate were taken to a hospital in serious condition.

"We're still piecing things together because the surviving victims are recovering," Baker said. "It's pretty tragic for the whole family."

Timothy Koppos was a familiar sight on South Hampden Terrace, a curving street of tidy houses where the boy liked to ride his scooter. He was an avid collector of Pokemon cards and reader of Harry Potter books and hoped to become a professional mover like his father, relatives said.

"My heart is broken," said his father, Robert Koppos. "He was a good child. He made all of us laugh."

Robert Koppos, who does not live in the house and said Alhambra police kept him from seeing his dying son at the crime scene, disputed investigators' and neighbors' statements that his daughter had dated Arazaga. He said they were simply acquaintances.

Neighbors reported seeing Arazaga driving down the street and dropping beer bottles in the road Sunday morning. Robert Koppos and his wife, Donna, said Arazaga evidently stopped by later during a family barbecue when the fight broke out.

Streaks of blood stained the white door and front steps of the house, where a relative who did not give her name arived Monday morning to pick up some clothes. When asked who was responsible for the killing, the woman replied: "We know who," before driving off.

Neighbors said they heard shouting from the home but stayed away because they were afraid of some of the visitors there. "Sometimes things got a little wild over there," said one neighbor who would not give her name.

Colleen Koppos met Arazaga through his brother, whom she used to date, said neighbor Duke Tanniehill. The two fought often, he said, and did not seem to have a healthy relationship.

"He was real jealous," Tanniehill said of Arazaga. He said Colleen Koppos told him that her boyfriend held weapons to her head and tried to throttle her with a telephone cord.

"I used to tell her to let him go," Tanniehill said. "She would say, 'I know, I know,' and she never did anything about it."

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