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Family Mourns Baby Boy, Slain in Van

Violence: A gunman fires into the vehicle, killing the child and injuring his mother and aunt.

November 28, 2001|MARIA ELENA GAONA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Through their tears, Bryan Angel Tolentino's family recalled Tuesday how the little 16-month-old boy made them happy.

"He was very joyful, never sad. He always made me smile," said the boy's father, Robert Anthony Tolentino, as he tried to keep from crying. "I don't know what I'm going to do without my son."

Bryan was fatally shot and his mother and aunt were wounded Monday afternoon when a gunman fired at their minivan in the 3000 block of 6th Street in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles police said.

The gunman got out of a car, walked up to the van and started shooting, said Det. Rick Peterson of the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollenbeck Division.

Bryan, who was strapped in a car seat in the rear of the van when he was shot in the head, was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

The boy's mother, Yvette Lopez, 22, suffered a minor gunshot wound to her left shoulder. Jennifer Medina, 20, Lopez's sister, suffered a gunshot wound to the back and was in stable condition at County-USC Medical Center.

Police said the shooting occurred in front of a known gang hangout and drug house. But detectives said they had no evidence that the women were affiliated with gangs, or that they were the intended targets in the apparently gang-related shooting, said Police Capt. Al Michelena.

Lopez, of Lynwood, said she and her sister were in the area looking for an apartment for their mother.

"I didn't know what was happening until I got hit," Lopez said. "Then my sister told me she got shot too. She told me to help her, and when I looked back, my son had a hole in his head."

Lopez's other son, 2-year-old Robert Anthony Tolentino Jr., was also in the vehicle at the time of the shooting but was not injured. He was walking around the house saying, "Bryan shot face," Lopez said.

The family will miss the younger boy's joyous laughter, she said.

Neighbor Margarita Ramos described Bryan as affectionate and playful. "This is a very sad event, the loss of an innocent one," Ramos said. "It's a disgrace."

Police said anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Hollenbeck Division at (213) 485-2942.

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