The mother of a suspected gang member allegedly drove a group of youths to a Long Beach park to kill a 13-year-old boy in retaliation for an earlier dispute, police said Tuesday.
Eva Daley, 30, and seven youths, including her 14-year-old son, were recently arrested and charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of Jose Cano, said Officer Jackie Bezart, spokeswoman for the Long Beach Police Department. At least one of the seven was involved in a previous confrontation with Cano, Bezart said.
When Daley "drove them back to the park, she drove them there for the purpose of retaliating against the 13-year-old that's deceased," she said. "She wasn't taking them there to play in the park."
Daley, who remains in custody on $1-million bail, was the only adult arrested in connection with Cano's slaying. But the seven boys -- ages 14 to 17 -- may be tried as adults and could each face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the killing and a street gang-related enhancement, authorities said.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on June 25, police responded to a call about a fight near 14th Street Park involving several youths, authorities said. During the skirmish, Cano was stabbed several times in the upper torso.
He was taken in a private car to a local hospital where he died, authorities said.
Milagros Mendoza, 14, a friend of Cano, said Tuesday that she was with him that night and recounted the events leading up to his death.
Mendoza said she and Cano, along with his older brother and a few friends, were standing near the street in front of his family's apartment, about a block from the park. She said they were waiting to catch a ride to a friend's house when about 15 boys ran out of an alley and came up behind Cano.
"They ran over, chasing him, and he tried to jump a fence, and he couldn't," she said. At that point, the boys descended on him, beating him with their fists, she said.
Cano managed to get away and started walking across the street, gripping his chest, Mendoza said. When he reached the edge of the park, she said, "he fell to the ground and all the guys ran back to the alley."
Cano's brother ran to help him while Mendoza called 911. But when an ambulance failed to appear after half an hour, a family friend drove the teenager to the hospital.
Mendoza, who lives down the street from Daley and her son, said the son was involved in the LMS, or Local Marijuana Smokers, crew and described him as "rough." She said Cano was affiliated with the LT crew, or Latin Thugs.
"I knew that he and him had gotten into a fight before," she said, "but I never knew [they] were going to take it to that."
Daley, her three children and her boyfriend moved into a small apartment complex in the 1700 block of Pine Avenue about six months ago, according to the owner of the building. Her teenage son, whom police declined to name because of his age, and his friends would always hang out in the alley where they spray-painted graffiti and smoked marijuana, said the landlord, who did not want to be identified.
Neighbors would repeatedly call police to complain, he said. The police would get mad at him, he said, and tell him to kick the family out.
"Everyone was scared," he said. On Tuesday, the Daley apartment was quiet, the graffiti painted over with teal blue paint.
Since she and her son were arrested, the complex has been quiet, the landlord said.
"They all went to jail," he said. "I was very happy they were in jail."
At the park three blocks away, a small memorial still lay Tuesday near the tree by the skate park where Cano fell after being stabbed. A votive candle with a faded bouquet of flowers sat at the base of the tree, with the words "RIP Bobby" -- as he was known in the neighborhood -- spray-painted in red across it. Above it was sprayed "RIP Terco," which in Spanish means "stubborn."
"He'd never listen to anybody; he'd always do what he wants," Mendoza said. "He'd always be in fights because he'd never let nobody talk back to him."
But Cano's family, who placed a seventh-grade photo of the baby-faced boy in a shrine set up in their home surrounded by burning candles with Christian images, said he was a good child. They said he was calm, sensitive and an honor student at Franklin Middle School who was not involved in gangs.
"He was a regular kid, like any other kid," said Enrique Gonzales, 14, noting that he often saw Cano at the park. "He'd come out and play. I don't know what he was doing with the other kids."