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Teen is charged as an adult in baby's shooting death

The 17-year-old alleged gang associate is accused of murder in the slaying of a 4-month-old boy, who was hit when two assailants opened fire on a group in Van Nuys.

October 14, 2009|Richard Winton

An alleged Blythe Street gang associate was charged Tuesday with the killing of a 4-month-old boy who was shot when gang members opened fire in Van Nuys on a group they believed were rivals from another gang, authorities said.

Alfonzo Landa, 17, was charged as an adult with murder, six felony counts of attempted murder and attempted carjacking for his alleged role in the Sept. 27 slaying of Andrew Garcia, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Landa, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, remains in jail in lieu of $9-million bail.

A second suspect is still at large.

The infant is the latest victim in a long-running feud between the Blythe Street and Barrio Van Nuys gangs that has claimed a number of lives over the years, including some innocent bystanders.

The boy's family was on its way home from a friend's baptismal celebration the night of the shooting, Robison said.

After the party, Andrew's parents, Marlene Ramirez, 18, and Frank Garcia, 21, agreed to drop off Anna Contreras, 28, a friend who lived nearby, before driving to their North Hollywood home, Robison said.

At one point, Frank Garcia got out of the car and was chatting with friends when two men approached on foot and a confrontation took place in the 14300 block of Kittridge Street. The child was being bottle-fed in the car at the time.

The mother of one of the men talking with Frank Garcia said her son told her that the assailants demanded to know where they were from and when her son responded, "Barrio Van Nuys," the two men fired at them.

Police said the woman's son, Eric Ramirez, 18, is a known gang member and that Frank Garcia has had "minor" associations with gangs. Family members denied that either was affiliated with gangs.

Police said the suspects fired six rounds from a shotgun, striking Contreras -- who suffered injuries that were not life-threatening -- and Andrew in the head.

The gunfire also hit Eric Ramirez, who was standing outside the car with Frank Garcia. Marlene Ramirez, who was in the car with Contreras, was not injured.

The baby was flown to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he later died.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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