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4 Arrested in Slaying of 14-Year-Old

Crime: Suspects, said to have gang ties, attend a Garden Grove high school. The victim was shot after taking a cab home from a cyber cafe.

June 12, 2002|MILTON CARRERO GALARZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Garden Grove police have arrested four high school students in the slaying of a 14-year-old who was gunned down last weekend after taking a cab home from an Internet cafe.

The investigation is continuing, but police are treating the killing of Edward Fernandez as gang-related, said Sgt. Mike Handfield of the Garden Grove Police Department. Fernandez was not connected to gangs, but the suspects have ties to local gangs and are believed to have acted in concert to kill the youth, Handfield said. Although police are not sure who among them was the shooter, all will be charged with murder.

"These people acted together in either formulating a plan or in following the taxi to kill Fernandez," Handfield said. "It could be the driving, the shooting or the following of the taxi--they are all chargeable with murder."

Police said witness statements led them to the four, but would not give details. One suspect was arrested Sunday, the other three Monday.

Tho That Ton, 18, is scheduled to be arraigned today. He was charged with homicide with gang enhancement and is being held without bail. Ron Le and Jack San, both 18, are in police custody pending filing of homicide charges, said Lt. Scott Hamilton. Another Garden Grove teenager was arrested, but his name was not released because he is a minor. All attend Bolsa Grande High School in the city.

Fernandez and six friends had spent the evening at the I.C.E. Internet Cafe in the 12200 block of Brookhurst Street. Fernandez arrived about 6:30 p.m. to watch the NBA finals and was in and out of the cafe, returning the last time about midnight before leaving with three friends in a cab, said manager Quang Nguyen, who worked the night shift Friday.

As they waited for their cab, Fernandez and his friends reportedly exchanged hostile looks with people in a car in the cafe parking lot.

Eyewitnesses said several cars followed the cab. A passenger in a black car approached the taxi as soon as it stopped in the 12500 block of Adelle Street, witnesses said. The gunman stood by the taxi and shot Fernandez several times while the victim paid the fare.

The shooting prompted city officials to heighten the enforcement of regulations governing cyber cafes. The city instituted rules for such establishments in January, after the Dec. 30 stabbing death of a 20-year-old outside the PC Cafe on Garden Grove Boulevard.

Under the current ordinance, cyber cafes must close by 2 a.m., have security cameras and keep minors away after 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and after 8 p.m. on other nights. Police said the ordinance might have been violated in the recent incident.

Nguyen said that Fernandez and his friends were not at the cafe the entire evening and that all the minors left about 11 p.m., after he called the police about a group of teenagers in cars who were intimidating customers outside. The teenagers dispersed when police arrived.

It was not known whether they were the same people who later followed Fernandez's cab.

Nguyen said that Fernandez and his friends returned to the cafe about midnight and that he told them they could not stay.

*

Times staff writer Monte Morin contributed to this report.

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