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Police Seek Killers and Motive

A young father, his nephew and a neighbor are dead. Another boy is critically wounded. A $105,000 reward is offered for information.

July 02, 2006|Sam Quinones | Times Staff Writer

Authorities were still searching Saturday for both a motive and suspects in the mid-afternoon shooting on Friday that left three people, including two boys, dead in a South Los Angeles neighborhood.

They said two gunmen, not just one as had been originally thought, jumped from a car and fired rifles at a group of people standing in front of a home.

Police released the names of the three who were pronounced dead at the scene: Larry Marcial, 22; his nephew, David Marcial, 10; and a neighbor, Luis Cervantes, 17.

Larry Marcial, a father of two, was an aspiring singer of corridos, Mexican ballads, and was included on a CD with other singers. It was slated to be released next week, according to the producer, who said he had hoped it would launch Marcial's career.

David Marcial was a fourth-grader at Hooper Elementary School. Cervantes was a junior at Johnson High School.

David's brother, Sergio Marcial Jr., 12, was wounded in the attack and was listed in critical condition at a local hospital, police said.

Police said a $105,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Piecing together witness statements, police said a large dark passenger vehicle stopped in front of the Marcial home in the 1100 block of East 49th Street about 4:30 p.m. Two young black men jumped from the car with rifles and opened fire, shooting at least 37 times.

When they were done, police said, the shooters jumped back in the car, which was driven by a third man, and sped away.

Veronica Cervantes, 16, was at home using the computer when she heard the gunshots. She ran out to the street to find her brother, Luis, lying bleeding on the sidewalk.

"He was trying to talk to me, but he was just bleeding from his mouth," she said. "I just hugged him."

Sergio Marcial Sr., a truck driver and father of Sergio and David, declined to speak to reporters.

The Marcial family had lived in different houses in the neighborhood for more than 25 years. Neighbors said they were well liked, hard working and not involved in either drugs or gangs. Police said the LAPD's gang database showed that none of the victims was known to have gang affiliations.

"They didn't have problems with anyone," said Francisco Cortez, a neighbor, echoing a sentiment expressed by many. "They were always out listening to music, calm and peaceful."

Saturday, their street was clogged with mourners as well as curious passers-by. An ice cream truck rolled slowly along the street, over the numerous chalk circles -- stretching for more than 20 yards -- that outlined where bullet casings had landed.

A baby shower scheduled for Saturday in the apartments where Luis Cervantes and his family lived was set up, then canceled, its pink and purple balloons fluttering silently in the breeze. Mourners had placed candles, flowers and balloons at the spots where the youths died.

Friends and family said Larry Marcial's singing career seemed about to take off.

His story is typical of Los Angeles' rambunctious independent Mexican-music industry, in which labels are formed out of swap meets and singers are discovered in unlikely places.

In November, Jesus Guerra said he discovered Marcial singing corridos -- narrative songs often about drug smugglers and bandits -- for friends in a South L.A. seafood restaurant.

Guerra said he was leaving the restaurant when Marcial got up to sing.

"He didn't sound like anybody else," said Guerra, a real estate agent who said he wanted to break into record producing. "He had his own voice."

Guerra said he was looking for singers to produce for Los Amigos Records, a record label he had recently been associated with. He gave Marcial his card and asked him if he had a recording contract.

Guerra said he put Marcial together with Kepler Sanchez, the owner of Los Amigos Records and a record shop in the Los Amigos Swap Meet downtown.

Marcial recorded three songs for Los Amigos in February that will be on the upcoming compilation CD, Guerra said.

The CD's title and front cover are being reworked in light of Marcial's death, Guerra said.

Guerra said Los Amigos Records had hoped to launch Marcial's career with the CD, then follow it with his own full-length CD.

"We were already looking into studio dates," Guerra said. "This CD was going to be the icebreaker. This guy had a lot of talent."

Police ask anyone with information about the shootings to call 877-LAW-FULL; 877-529-3855. Callers may report information anonymously.

Staff Writer Myron Levin contributed to this report.

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