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2 Friends Shot Dead Outside Tobacco Club

The men had left the Northridge hookah parlor after a fight and were killed when they returned. Police doubt any gang involvement.

September 19, 2003|Michael Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

Two close friends who left a popular tobacco club near Cal State Northridge after a fistfight broke out were shot to death when they returned less than an hour later, according to police who interviewed several witnesses Thursday in their search for the gunman.

Michael Domaloan, 21, and Felix Quiroz, 23, both of Chatsworth, were shot Wednesday about 11:25 p.m. in the crowded parking lot of a mini-mall that includes Bub Blurs, a nonalcoholic club where young people gather to smoke exotic tobaccos and listen to music.

A third male, who was not identified, was also wounded, but his injuries were not serious, police said.

The conflict started about 10:30 p.m., when a fistfight broke out in the parking lot at Lindley Avenue and Nordhoff Street, across the street from the university, police and witnesses said.

"Two guys jumped into a car and were beating up someone in the car, so I called 911," said a worker at a Thai restaurant in the mini-mall who feared retaliation and refused to give her name. "Before the cops came, everyone left. After the cops left, everyone came back."

Domaloan and Quiroz, who returned in a car with a friend, left the car on Lindley and confronted a man, according to the friend's father.

Domaloan and Quiroz "told my son to park the car and they walked into the parking lot and all of a sudden my son heard the shots," said John Rivadeneria, whose son John Jr. was too upset to speak about the deaths. "They were good kids. They weren't gang members. They left the club after the fight, but they came back. It was the biggest mistake of their lives."

Other witnesses also said they heard an argument, though it wasn't clear if Domaloan or Quiroz were involved. As the restaurant worker put it: "I heard some words and then I heard the shots and I called 911 again."

Paramedics rushed the two men to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.

"This does not appear to be gang related at all," said Capt. Joe Curreri of Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire Division.

LAPD homicide investigators were busy in the early morning hours Thursday conducting interviews at the scene of the shooting and were trying to contact others by telephone, according to Det. Mike Oppelt.

Anyone with information is urged to call Oppelt at (818) 756-8291 or (818) 756-8285.

At the Jovita Avenue home in Chatsworth where Domaloan lived with his mother and father, family and friends were offering condolences to the grief-stricken parents.

"I told him, 'Michael, I worry about you all the time,' " said Karen Domaloan as she wiped her bloodshot eyes. "He told me, 'Mom, you never have to worry about me. I can take care of myself.' That was just yesterday. Now I'll never see my son again."

As he held his sobbing wife on their front lawn, Domaloan's father spoke of his son's plans.

"He was working in construction and getting ready to go back to college because I told him, 'If you want to get ahead, you need to get a good education,' " said Melvin Domaloan, who paused frequently to hold back tears.

Michael Domaloan, a Simi Valley High School graduate who played football, basketball and soccer, was an avid fisherman and loved to surf at Zuma Beach.

Quiroz was a frequent visitor to the Domaloan home.

"He was a good kid, too," said Karen Domaloan. "Just a real nice young man."

Quiroz's aunt said her nephew was hoping to get a call this week from Home Depot about a job.

"He was very happy because he felt he was going to get the job," said Gloria Castillo, who added that Quiroz lived with his mother and three siblings. "He was so sweet."

Bub Blurs was closed Thursday. The popular smoke club sells energy drinks and has comedy and hip-hop nights. It offers customers the use of a water pipe called a hookah, a centuries-old smoking device popular in the Middle East.

By late afternoon, a makeshift memorial had been set up on the sidewalk outside and a group of 11 people knelt and prayed for the victims.

Someone had scrawled on the sidewalk "Rest in Peace," signing it from the "Insane High Krew," which is a "group of friends devoted to working and having a good time," according to a friend of the victims.

"They were both outgoing, clean-cut, respectful people who would be there for you," said the friend, Steve Cerroni, 21, of Northridge.

At Domaloan's home, his father tried to cope with his loss.

"I never thought it would happen to us," said Melvin Domaloan. "You always read about it in the news, but now, we are the news."

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