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Teen is held after shooting rampage leaves 1 dead, 4 hurt

March 11, 2007|Sara Lin and Ashley Powers | Times Staff Writers

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CALIF. — A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of shooting five other teenagers at a party Saturday morning, killing one and critically injuring another after an argument spun out of control, authorities said.

Israel Larios, 19, of unincorporated Sky Valley was dead when officers arrived at the 66600 block of Granada Avenue just after midnight, police said. Four partygoers had also been shot in the arm, wrist, torso or hip.

Two boys, ages 17 and 15, and a 16-year-old girl were treated and released from Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Another 17-year-old boy was in stable condition.

The gunman, whose name has not been released, was arrested without incident several hours later at a relative's home in Las Palmas, an unincorporated area near Desert Hot Springs. He had a semiautomatic handgun in his pocket, authorities said. The boy was booked into Indio Juvenile Hall without bail on suspicion of murder.

The gunman, who was not a gang member, had not had any disagreements with partygoers earlier in the evening, said Desert Hot Springs Police Sgt. Radames Gil. He appeared to be sober during the shooting, said Gil, and told authorities that he fired into a crowd with no intended targets.

"All this was, was a stupid argument," said Gil, who is leading the investigation. "For somebody to die over this, it's just a tragedy."

The shootings took place inside a vacant one-story stucco home, which sits among mostly aging buildings with dirt yards and no sidewalks.

Though the home's residents had moved out at least a week ago, neighbors said, some of the teens had been having parties there. One young man had promised several neighbors that Saturday's party would be his last.

The home's owners, whom property records identified as Edward and Rosario Persina, could not be reached for comment.

About 50 teens and young adults, many of whom attended nearby Desert Hot Springs High School, had been drinking beer and listening to loud rap music for several hours, neighbors said, and some had started fighting in the street.

Inside the house, Gil said, the gunman was hanging out with a handful of people in a bedroom. Several other partygoers told him to leave the room. The teens began shouting at each other, and the disagreement quickly escalated to a scuffle.

Nearly two dozen partygoers rushed into the room to watch the dispute, which lasted just minutes, Gil said.

Then "some egos got in the way and the shooter started firing," he said.

Monica Perkins, who lives across the street, said: "I just thought they were breaking windows or something. I didn't know they were shooting each other."

Partygoers screamed, dashed into the street and hid in their cars, said neighbors. The girl who was shot ran to a neighbor to get help.

sara.lin@latimes.com

ashley.powers@latimes.com

Times researcher Robin Mayper contributed to this report.

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