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Long Beach police see no motive in New Year's Eve slaying

January 03, 2008|Tiffany Hsu | Times Staff Writer

Police on Wednesday said they still did not know a motive for a shooting at a backyard party on New Year's Eve in Long Beach that left one man dead and three other people injured.

Sgt. David Marander of the Long Beach Police Department said 30 people had gathered in a backyard in the 1900 block of Pine Avenue to bring in the New Year.

Shortly after midnight, a gunman, who was standing behind a wall or fence bordering the yard, fired at close range, striking Jonathan Fernandez, 25, once in the torso and killing him.

A woman, 21, was shot in the upper torso at close range and is in very serious condition at a local hospital, Marander said. An 18-year-old female was shot in the right arm and a 20-year-old male was shot in the torso.

The gunman ran off. Fernandez was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 11:15 a.m. New Year's Day, authorities said.

Gangs operate in the area, which is lined with run-down housing. But police said they did not know if gangs were involved in the shooting. Police said none of the victims appeared to be gang members.

Late Wednesday, police vehicles were parked outside the small white stucco house. Electric candy canes along the walkway and Christmas lights along the roof were switched on.

Family members of Jose Rosales, who owns the home and who had worked with Fernandez, said they had "gone through a lot" and declined to comment further.

Fernandez worked at the Ross Dress for Less store in the City Place shopping plaza in downtown Long Beach and at Payless Shoe Source, Ross store manager Elmer Nieves said.

Fernandez was popular with co-workers and customers, Nieves said, and supervisors were considering promoting him.

"We never heard a complaint about him -- whenever you needed him, he'd show up," Nieves said. "He was everything good rolled into one person."

Several of the store's employees had attended the party with Fernandez, Nieves said. At least three stayed home from work Wednesday, recovering from the shock of the shooting.

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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