Brian Ramos lived in a Koreatown apartment so tiny that a single room, with a few chairs and double beds crammed end-to-side, served as living room and bedroom for him, his father, disabled mother and elderly grandmother.
Like so many L.A. neighborhoods, there's not nearly enough parking, and city transportation department officers ticket with a ferocious vigilance.
That's why Brian was outside Tuesday night. He was moving the family's cars around, trying to get them situated so they wouldn't get ticketed, said Det. John Shafia of LAPD Wilshire Division. A man or youth walked up to him, said "Where are you from?" and started shooting before Brian could answer. He fell immediately. He died at County-USC.
The parents spoke about 30 hours after Brian was shot and killed in front of the apartment building. Neither had slept or eaten. Brian's mother broke down in sobs every 30 seconds or so. They weren't sure they would be able to handle an interview, but tried anyway.
Brian was their only son. They are proud of how clean-cut he was. They keep returning to the subject. Ana Perez grew animated when she described how, after his death, police searched for some sign that Brian had gang or drug ties. They searched the house, talked to his friends, canvassed the neighborhood. They couldn't find a thing.
He didn't have a tattoo, not even an earring. He had never been arrested, never joined a gang, never had problems in school, his parents said, and police agreed. He was working full-time as a delivery driver for Coca Cola, contributing to the upkeep of his small family. He was considering studying to be a medical assistant. Or maybe a mechanic. He liked mechanical things, his father said. "Buen hijo," says his mother, over and over. Good son.
Shafia said Brian--a 21-year-old Latino male killed by a gang member--might not stand out as a victim. Not a soldier, honor student or university grad. Yet he was exceptional, Shafia said.
The apartment was so small and crowded he would have had to be outside a lot. He probably had to mingle with gang members every day of his life. Yet somehow he managed never to be involved. "You grow up in that neighborhood and you find your way not to be a gang member?" Shafia said, shaking his head in amazement. "I guess it must be the parents."
Detectives seek information, anonymous tips, rumors, anything. A reward is pending. Shafia and his partner are at (213) 473-0446.
Piden informacion sobre este homicidio. Llame (213) 473-0446.