A 16-year-old Belmont High School varsity baseball player who dreamed of making it to the pros was shot to death Sunday night in front of his home near Echo Park, authorities said.
Juan Delgado was fatally struck near the ribs by a bullet from a vehicle, said Los Angeles Police Department Det. Fred Faustino. No suspects were immediately identified, he said, and the victim had no gang affiliations.
"It's so tragic when you see a kid like this die," said Belmont baseball coach Robert Bautista, who described Delgado as a hard-working, left-handed pitcher who was looking forward to the upcoming season in January.
The high school junior was drinking a hot chocolate and listening to his radio at the front stairs of the house on the 1200 block of Colton Street near Glendale Boulevard about 7 p.m. when gunfire rang out, witnesses told police.
Delgado ran up the stairs screaming and collapsed near the front door, said his sister, Kathy Morales.
Witnesses said the shots were fired from a white Toyota 4-Runner headed west on the hilly street, said Faustino.
Morales, a trained nurse, called paramedics and tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her brother with the help of her husband. Delgado was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. at the USC Medical Center.
The only son and the youngest of four siblings, Delgado was remembered Monday by teachers, family and friends as a "sweet" guy who always tried to help his friends.
"I just want them to know that they made a mistake killing an innocent soul," said his mother, Sanjuana Delgado. "They took away an angel. My only son, my hope."
She said she will remember the way he used to sneak behind her back to say: "Te quiero" (I love you).
Delgado's typing teacher, Sharon Peoples, said he often helped her clean her classroom after class, which he took after school for extra credit. "He was a good kid," she said. "He could have been hanging out on the street, but he wanted to graduate."
Morales believes that his brother could have been mistaken for someone else because like many residential areas in the neighborhood, Colton is poorly lighted.
There are close to 30 gangs in the area, said the Los Angeles Police Department.
Delgado was not a naturally gifted baseball player, but he put in a lot of effort and had great potential, Bautista said.
In an autobiography for his English class, Delgado wrote that he tried to stay away from "troublemakers."
"I'm planning on playing baseball all the way through high school and college, until I get to the pros."