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2 held in gang-related O.C. killing of boy, 13

September 12, 2008|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

Two Santa Ana gang members were arrested early Thursday in the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy who was gunned down while crossing a street with friends near Santa Ana High School, authorities said.

The suspects are 16 and 18 years old and affiliated with a local street gang, said Cpl. Jose Gonzalez of the Santa Ana Police Department. He declined to release their identities because of the ongoing investigation. He said the victim, Rodrigo Valle, also was affiliated with a local gang.

The shooting occurred about 3 p.m. Wednesday at Walnut and Flower streets, near Santa Ana High, but Gonzalez said the victim did not attend the school. He declined to release further information about the suspects.

Valle, who attended a continuation school, was crossing the street with friends in the presence of other teens walking home. Another group of teenagers approached and someone demanded to know his gang affiliation, Gonzalez said.

When Valle did not answer, he was shot multiple times in the upper torso, police said. Valle was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 4:48 p.m. Police did not disclose the name of the hospital for what they said were safety reasons.

The shooting occurred about 20 minutes after classes had let out for the day and while crowds of students were walking home, neighbors said. No one else was hurt.

Gonzalez said the suspects were arrested at 3:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Detectives recovered a weapon believed to have been used in the shooting.

Police Chief Paul Walters credited the community for the speedy arrests. "There was an overwhelming amount of information and support from the community," he said. "Our detectives went door to door talking to people, and it paid off."

Santa Ana has had an increase in gang shootings this year, a trend that Walters said was also being seen in the state's other 10 largest cities.

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hgreza@latimes.com

Times staff writer Tony Barboza contributed to this report.

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