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Ventura County

2 Teens Killed, 1 Injured in Separate Shootings

Ventura County's homicide count climbs to 39. The incidents -- in Oxnard, Fillmore and near Santa Paula -- all occur at parties.

October 13, 2003|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Two teenage boys were shot to death and a third seriously injured at three separate parties in Ventura County over the weekend, bringing to 39 the number of homicides in the county since the start of the year.

There were a total of 23 homicides last year.

"We've had more homicides countywide this year than in previous years past, and that's very alarming," Santa Paula Police Chief Bob Gonzales said.

About 12 a.m. Sunday at a large birthday party on Peres Lane near Santa Paula, Samuel Travis Reeves, 15, brawled with a man for unknown reasons. During the fight, the man pulled out a pistol and shot Reeves in the torso, authorities said.

Reeves of Santa Paula was taken by ambulance to Santa Paula Hospital and then moved to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, where he died about 1:45 a.m., said Eric Nishimoto, a Ventura County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

The shooting did not appear to be gang-related even though there were gang members at the party, which drew more than 500 people to a home just outside the city, authorities said.

Gonzales, whose officers assisted sheriff's deputies, said he knows Reeves' parents and older brothers, and that the family has lived in Santa Paula for several years.

He said his officers had not experienced any prior problems with the victim.

"It's just a tragedy that people can't get together and get along," Gonzales said.

The shooter fled the party and no arrests had been made as of Sunday night.

"It's taking us a while to interview everybody because there were a lot of people there and some people were leaving as we arrived," Nishimoto said. This was the 18th homicide reported this year to sheriff's deputies.

During a birthday party Saturday night in Oxnard's La Colonia neighborhood, Froylan Martinez, 16, was killed when he was shot in the head after returning from a market where he had purchased sodas and potato chips for the guests, authorities said.

"By all accounts, this young man was a fine, upstanding citizen, and this was truly a tragedy," said David Keith, an Oxnard police spokesman.

Martinez of Oxnard and several other students from Pacifica High School were gathered at a house on Felicia Court for a friend's surprise 16th birthday party, Keith said.

About 8 p.m., Martinez and a few friends drove to a store, returned and parked near the party. A silver or tan car pulled up carrying three or four men, who got out of the car and beat up one of Martinez's friends. As he and the others ran, Martinez was shot a few feet from his family's home on Felicia Court, near the house where the party was held. He died at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. No one else was wounded.

Keith said that although the victim was not a gang member, the killing "has the earmarks of being a gang-involved shooting," and the suspects may have been targeting one of Martinez's friends.

"This was a very senseless, disturbing killing," Oxnard Police Sgt. Jim Seitz said. "He only decided to attend the party after being asked several times by the birthday girl to come over. Earlier in the day, the victim's parents took him shopping to buy balloons and a present for the party."

Martinez was described by authorities as a shy, studious boy who preferred to stay home and play video games. The other guests at the party were described as good students.

Martinez's killing was the 20th homicide this year in Oxnard.

In Fillmore early Sunday, a 16-year-old boy was shot while attending a small party in the 800 block of Hinckley Lane.

A group of three or four men pulled up in a car, and one fired several shots at partygoers shortly before 3 a.m.

The victim, whose name was not released, was being treated for a gunshot wound to the face Sunday at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital.

Anyone with information in the sheriff's cases can call anonymously at 494-TALK or 385-TALK. Information about the Oxnard case can be offered on a hotline at 982-7070.

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