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Woman, 24, killed in drive-by shooting in South L.A.

Victim Juliana Barrios was visiting relatives for the holiday; police said the family has no gang ties and there is no clear motive.

December 26, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • Bullet holes are visible in the wall of a home in South Los Angeles where a 24-year-old woman was killed in a drive-by shooting on Christmas Day. Juliana Barrios had been visiting family for the holiday, police said.
Bullet holes are visible in the wall of a home in South Los Angeles where a… (Wally Skalij, Los Angeles…)

Denise Piazza was inside her upstairs apartment when the shots resounded on Christmas Day.

There weren't squealing tires or a revving engine like you'd expect to hear after a drive-by shooting, she said, just the five or six loud pops about 5 p.m. Wednesday, and then children's screams.

Witnesses said they could tell 24-year-old Juliana Barrios was dead before her panicked family carried her body into a car and rushed her to a nearby hospital.

"She wasn't moving," said Piazza, who has lived in the 700 block of East 87th Street in South Los Angeles for 14 years. "It's sad, so sad. God forbid, it could've been one of those kids."

Police on Thursday said there is still no clear motive for why Barrios or the home may have been targeted. Barrios lived in Pomona and was visiting family for the holiday, police said. Neither she nor her family have apparent gang ties, according to residents and detectives.

"It could be just to make a lasting memory for whoever the intended victim was, to let the family know that every Christmas they have to live through this again," said Los Angeles Police Department gang homicide Det. Charles Hicks. "Or maybe they were bored and just didn't have something to do. It could be any number of things at this point. It's undetermined what the motivation is. It just looks like an unfortunate victim."

Residents said the street was quiet Wednesday afternoon before the shooting. Barrios and some children from the home were in the front yard when a truck drove by in the westbound lane, and someone on the passenger side fired in Barrios' direction.

Plates and bowls remained on a table on the home's porch Thursday. A pair of bullet holes were visible next to the front door and window; one shot narrowly missed a painting of the Virgin Mary hanging nearby.

"It's horrible … you never think something like this would happen right here," said Perry Wright, who has lived on the street for 30 years and is familiar with the family living at the home Barrios was visiting. "These kids weren't, like, in gangs or anything like that. They were pretty good kids."

It's a neighborhood where everyone watches out for each other, Piazza said.

"They're very nice," she said of the family. "They stayed in the yard. Mind their own business. No one ever had a problem."

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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