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Assailant in 3 Slayings at Pacoima Party Still at Large

VALLEY NEWS

Crime: Shooting victims and their suspected killer were members of the same gang, authorities say.

January 16, 2001|CAROL CHAMBERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PACOIMA — Three people shot to death at a weekend party, as well as the man suspected of killing them, were all members of the same gang, police said Monday.

Homicide detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division said they believe they have identified the gunman, but would not release his name. He remained at large Monday.

A fourth man was injured by the gunfire.

The shootings occurred sometime after 1 a.m. Sunday in the 10100 block of Rincon Avenue at a teenager's birthday party--attended by the Pacoima-area gang members--when an ongoing feud between the men came to a head, police said.

"There was some type of dispute between one of the victims and the suspect when the suspect pulls out a handgun and shoots four people," Det. Jose Martinez said.

Police arrived at the scene about 1:30 a.m. and found Joel Gonzalez, 26, of Pacoima, lying dead in an alley behind the house.

Two other victims, identified as Jesse Abel, 24, of Pacoima, and Jack Loutsios, 17, of North Hills, were taken in a private car to a nearby hospital where they died, Martinez said.

The fourth victim, German Lopez, 21, of Pacoima, was struck in the eye, possibly by shrapnel from a ricocheting bullet, Martinez said. Lopez was treated and released at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.

Police had not determined Monday whether the attacker chose his targets.

"At this time, we don't know if he picked people out or just fired indiscriminately," said Det. Frank Bishop.

"Right now we're looking only for one shooter. We believe we know who we're looking for."

Police said they have developed "a strong lead" on a suspect and are taking steps to see that he doesn't flee the country to avoid arrest and prosecution.

While some neighbors said Sunday that they had heard the early morning gunfire, Rincon Avenue resident Ishmael Guzman said he didn't learn of the shootings until he read Monday's newspaper. The news did not come entirely as a surprise.

"This was a good neighborhood. A quiet street with good neighbors," Guzman said. "It's been getting more like this for about eight years."

The lifelong San Fernando Valley resident said he remembers when disputes ended in scuffles and fistfights.

"Now people get out a gun and shoot," he said. "They go to prison for the rest of their life and for what? A disagreement? I'm thinking seriously of moving. When you tell people you're from Pacoima they think of guns and shootings. I'm thinking of moving to Palmdale."

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