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Evidence Seized in Fourth of July Killing

Acting on a tip, Buena Park police search a home and confiscate ammunition similar to the bullet that killed a 9-year-old boy in park.

November 21, 2002|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Since July 4, Priscilla Borjon, 13, takes weekly walks with her grandmother to Boisseranc Park in Buena Park to place flowers next to a concrete sign that has become a makeshift memorial.

She tends the flowers left for her 9-year-old cousin, Xavier Morales, by students, teachers and strangers. And she prays to find his killer.

"It's been hard for us," Priscilla said. "I miss him. Grandma cries a lot. We're heartbroken."

Xavier, who had just finished fourth grade at Sunkist Elementary School, was killed by a bullet fired into the air during Fourth of July celebrations at the park, police said. The bullet pierced his lungs and severed the aorta before it exited his hip.

Though the case remains unsolved, police said Wednesday that they are getting closer to giving the Morales family answers.

Authorities said a caller has led them to a possible suspect who lives nearby, but they declined to release information about the man. Police have searched his home, where they said they seized bullets similar to those used in the shooting. The FBI is conducting ballistics tests, which could take up to 30 days, to determine if there is a match.

Also Wednesday, officials said that several groups, including Xavier's mother's employer, have raised the reward in the case to $25,000.

"This case needs to come together for Xavier," said Buena Park Police Chief Gary Hicken. "We had a chaotic scene with everyone shooting fireworks ... but I think someone might have remembered something."

The Anaheim boy had attended a fireworks show at the park with his older brother, Arturo, and several other relatives. He said he wasn't feeling well and walked to the park's entrance, where he collapsed. Arturo called police after he helped his brother up and discovered blood gushing from his side.

Police said the shot could have been fired from as far away as a mile. They declined to state from which direction it was fired. In investigating Xavier's death, authorities also discovered that four parked cars near the fireworks show were hit with bullets.

"What makes it really hard is who did it and why," said Xavier's mother, Vickie Morales, holding her son's school picture taken weeks before his death. "The police have investigated and followed all leads," she said, choking back tears. "So far, we feel in the dark. If anyone knows anything, we beg for them to come forward. This is the worst thing that can happen to anybody."

Police are urging anyone who videotaped any portion of the Fourth of July proceedings at the park to let authorities view their tapes.

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