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Victim's Brother Accused of Vandalism

Relative of a slain teen questioned in incident at Hamilton High.

July 13, 2006|Arin Gencer | Times Staff Writer

The distraught brother of a Hamilton High student who was shot and killed this week allegedly vandalized a school police car after meeting with campus officials Wednesday, authorities said.

The man, whom officials did not name but family members called Christian Espinoza, was leaving the school after he had met with a crisis team member to discuss his sister's killing, said Susan Cox, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District. His car had been ticketed for parking illegally in front of the school, she said.

"He went over to a school police car, which was behind his, and jumped on the hood and kicked the windshield," Cox said. Espinoza then got into his car and drove off, she said.

School police detained Espinoza for questioning but did not arrest him, said Mike Bowman, acting deputy chief of the L.A. Unified School Police Department. Authorities have not decided whether to press charges, Bowman said.

"He was upset; he vented," Bowman said of Espinoza. "We have to have a little empathy for this family."

Espinoza's sister, Ana Elizabeth Interiano, 16, was killed Tuesday while walking from school with a group of friends in an alley near the intersection of Robertson Boulevard and Cadillac Avenue, said Sgt. Lee Sands of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A white sport utility vehicle carrying two or three people had driven past the alley, Sands said. The vehicle stopped and one person, whom witnesses identified as male, got out. Standing about 200 feet away, he fired several rounds down the alley, Sands said. Interiano was hit in the head.

She died at a hospital at about 6:17 p.m., said Fred Corral, a watch commander at the Los Angeles County coroner's office. Sands said no one else in the group of at least five was injured.

The shooter's motive was unclear, Sands said, as was whether Interiano was the target. Although Interiano appeared to have no gang affiliation, Sands said, the occupants of the SUV were believed to be gang members.

Witnesses said they had seen the same vehicle driving around the area just before the incident, which occurred at 1:30 p.m., Sands said. Interiano's friends -- standing before a memorial of candles and photos on the corner near the shooting site -- also said students told school police that earlier vehicle's occupants had been stopping and asking people where they were from. Bowman said police were investigating that claim.

Additional officers have been stationed at the campus, increasing the number from two to eight.

Friends planned to hold a car wash Saturday, behind a warehouse at La Cienega Boulevard and Cadillac Avenue, to raise money for Interiano's funeral.

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