It was about 2 p.m. on Friday when the black door to the community room at the LAPD's Northeast Division opened and relatives of two slain Franklin High School students walked in and stood beside each other in silence.
Family members bowed their heads and listened as the station's commanding officer, Bill Murphy, recounted the shooting of 14-year-old Carlos Hernandez and 15-year-old Alejandro Garcia.
The two boys were walking home from Piedmont Park on the afternoon of March 13, a Monday, when a gang member confronted them.
After an exchange of words, the boys began fighting, and the gang member called for help. Homicide Det. Lisa Governo said another gang member ran to the scene, pulled a handgun and shot the two boys.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, June 17, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Highland Park slayings: An article in Saturday's Section A about a suspect being charged with murder in the deaths of two teenage boys in Highland Park said the boys were walking home from Piedmont Park on the afternoon of March 13, a Monday. March 13 was a Friday. The two boys were walking near Highland Park Recreation Center.
"We knew this crime was going to be a big shock for the community," Murphy said, adding that all of the station's homicide squad was assigned to the case, along with dozens of gang enforcement officers.
Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes Highland Park, urged council members to approve a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
"We worked this relentlessly, we canvassed that area multiple times, we put fliers out there and worked it very hard for three months," Murphy said.
On Wednesday night, the case finally broke. Someone from the community had stepped forward.
Governo said the suspected gunman, Felix Gomez Jr., 18, was arrested near his home in Highland Park.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Gomez was charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders.
Prosecutors said Gomez is a documented member of the Dogtown gang whose street monikers include the name "Shorty."
Murphy called on the community to help in the prosecution.
"Many people saw this crime, many, many. We would like them to come forward," he said.
"Please help us get a conviction on this man for this heinous crime," he said. "Let's put him away for a long time, if not forever."
Standing nearby was Alejandro Garcia's 22-year-old brother, Victor, who said the loss of his brother was a tragedy for his family.
"Things are just not the same anymore," he said.
Also nearby was Carlos Hernandez's 52-year-old father, also named Carlos.
Asked how his family was taking the loss, Hernandez said he had two daughters and had no choice but to cope and move forward.
Glancing down, he said his son's birthday was just days after he was killed.
"He would have turned 15," Hernandez said.