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Teenager Is Shot to Death After Confronting Tagger

June 06, 2003|Daniel Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Santiago Santos Vidrio told his dad he was just going to the liquor store down the street to get cigarettes for his cousin.

But when he walked outside his family's apartment in unincorporated Athens, north of Gardena, about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Vidrio came upon a suspected gang member tagging his crew's name on a wall just steps from Vidrio's front door, police said.

Vidrio, 18, confronted the tagger, who shot him in the head before fleeing in a Chevrolet Camaro, said Sheriff's Deputy Scott Butler. Vidrio died just before noon Wednesday, his family said.

"They shot my son," said Vicente Madero, Vidrio's stepfather, his eyes bloodshot. "There's so many gangs around here -- one gang, another gang, another gang -- all over the place."

The shooting in the 11200 block of South Mariposa Street, just across from a county social services building, brought neighbors to their fences and gates, where some said violence and crime have steadily risen in the area. Gangs are to blame, they said.

"That's just what they do, getting revenge on each other back and forth," said Elvira Ramirez, 65.

Vidrio attended Washington Prep in Los Angeles, but did not graduate, his father said. He didn't have a job, but had done construction work in the past. A neighbor said Vidrio helped him set tile in his kitchen last year. Santiago enjoyed working with VCRs and sound systems, said one of his three younger brothers, David, 12.

Sheriff's Capt. Frank Merriman said homicide detectives were continuing their investigation and had no suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call (323) 890-5500.

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