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-- Megan Garvey and Anthony Pesce

Christopher O'Leary, 34

January 20, 2008 |  2:19 pm

Christopher_oleary_34Christopher O'Leary, 34, a white man, was fatally shot near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Avenue 46 in Highland Park on Sunday, Jan. 20. O'Leary was on his way to the store when a man or youth approached him and shot him. A passerby discovered the body and reported it to police. The motive is still unclear, said homicide Det. Lewis Lenchuk of LAPD's Northeast Division. O'Leary was transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where he was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m.

O'Leary was an employee at the Department of Public Health in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention Program. Having a doctorate in medical anthropology, O'Leary assisted in launching two STD prevention campaigns, according to Harlan Ortabalatt, a colleague. The first, "Check Yourself," was  aimed at preventing the spread of syphilis among gay men. The second, "I Know," attempted to prevent the spread of chlamydia and gonorrhea among  women of color.  He was scheduled to give a presentation about the campaigns at the National STD Prevention Conference in Chicago and the International AIDS Prevention Conference in Mexico City later this year.

Those who knew and worked with O'Leary described him as an astute and vibrant person. "He would make you come alive,"  Ortabalatt said. "It would heighten your level about life." Unanimously, friends and colleagues have taken comfort in the idea that O'Leary was his usual self that Sunday; he was happy and enjoying life.  Read O'Leary's obituary in the Sacramento Bee for more.

Anyone with information about the incident can call (213) 847-426.

* Update: LAPD Northeast detectives have cleared this case: A 17-year-old Latino youth has been arrested. Times story.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments (49)

This story just breaks my heart. He sounded like an awesome guy who had so much to give to the world. Senseless.

"colored women"? What, is it 1958 or something?

The blog said women of color, stop hating!

Once again another senseless killing...I guess so many blacks and Latino's get killed in LA that they just get mentioned on the homicide report and not a full article. Every person murdered deserves to have their story put a person behind the name...His article was very well written..spoke of his family and dogs and all...I have had friend killed in LA and they didnt even make the homicide report not to mention an article about their life and their loved ones...Mmmmm

To Preston-

Not every white murder victim receives a story in the LA Times or coverage in the local TV news. Don't be naive. Google Sean Parmley or Neal Williams.

This man was an advocate for latinos and blacks. That's why the article was written. He just happened to be white.

Very, very sad story. Heartbreaking.

To Preston: please dont turn this into a race thing, that is just sick. I believe he got an article here because he was a public servant who dedicated his life to helping the needy..... its really that simple.

I have been reading this blog for a year and there have been plenty of articles about people of all races. Here's a couple. Dovon Harris's (African-American) case was revisited every month for 6 months to hear how the family was coping. Brian Ramos (Latino), Darius Truly (African American), Ebrahim Torbati (Iranian) all had lengthy articles written about them over the past few months where we learned heartbreaking details of their lives and how the world has lost because they were so cruely taken. It would be nice to see that for each life taken, but there isn't enough staff to do it. I'm sorry that you lost a friend. That must be difficult. Did you contact the HR to see why their death was not included? I found this blog because a friend of mine was murdered too.

Preston, I think Dr. Christopher O'Leary story is exceedingly poignant due to the complete randomness of his murder, by a 17 year-old suspect, and his standing in our society as a public health educator. Not because he lacks the popularity of a particular ethnicity.

Preston, I gently suggest you re-think your comments.

Yes, I agree that many people of all races are shot every day in our illustrious city, but they don't get a story written about them. I think the fact that he played such an important and pivotal role in the public health of everyone, which includes all races, was the reason he had a story written about him.

I think this summation of his background substantiates that:

"O'Leary was an employee at the Department of Public Health in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention Program. Having a doctorate in medical anthropology, O'Leary assisted in launching two STD prevention campaigns, according to Harlan Ortabalatt, a colleague. The first, "Check Yourself," was aimed at preventing the spread of syphilis among gay men. The second, "I Know," attempted to prevent the spread of chlamydia and gonorrhea among women of color. He was scheduled to give a presentation about the campaigns at the National STD Prevention Conference in Chicago and the International AIDS Prevention Conference in Mexico City later this year."

This story just does not sound straight to me. They have a 17 year old in custody for what? They said it themselves. . . no evidence. That teen lived in that area for a couple of weeks and he gets taken in for what reason?!?! I understand that he saved lives or whatever but the truth is that many poeple of all races get killed everyday for no aparent reason. The way they said that he smoked in front of children who saw no harm in that. . . what kind of shit is that. Is it because of the area they live in. If there was no harm in in then why didnt he smoke in his own home? it sounds strange that such a perfect man who loved his wife and had absolutley no problems with anyone would get killed for no reason. Nobody has the perfect life and it seems that that's what they are trying to make his life sound like. Were any gunshots heard from any neighbors. How is it that he was found on the floor by someone driving by but yet no one heard the gunshots and called the police. Sounds a bit strange. I think that there is too much unsoved. It seems that they are going on his familys word and have proof of anything. But hey. . .why would anything like that happend to him right??? he was so nice and perfect.

The way the story was written and the story itself seem odd to me.

*Why was he so nervous all morning?

*Why did he leave his wedding ring and wallet behind?

*What made his wife turn around en-route to the gym?

*If he died where his friend said (on another blog) on Lincoln at the Sparkletts plant, why was he hiding behind one of the buildings? [The plant takes up both sides of that street and there are no homes there, and usually no kids at that time on a Sunday.]

*If he was so ashamed of smoking, why did he yell to a neighbor that he was off to be bad?

The writer might not be familiar with the area or the people who live there, and shouldn't have placed these little odd tidbits without explanations.

Jasmine, I think you missed most of the key points and details of this article. I urge you to read the article again and rethink your comments. The teen was taken into custody due to several pieces of evidence tying him to the crime. The only thing "strange" about this case is why the suspect chose Dr.O'Leary as a victim.

Why does every single murdered person deserve a full article written about him/her? What if this person never did anything of value to have a full article written about him/her are the persons living relatives ready to read the truth? Well this blog should tell you that they are not. I think you need to re-think your position about every murdered person deserving a full write up.

Christopher was a coworker of a friend of a friend. I also happen to live in the area. My coworker told me of the murder and I was shocked it hadn't been covered almost a week later. I saw that Reuben Vives posts his email and emailed him at Homicide Report and asked why he hadn't written the article. He told me many reasons and asked me for more information. My friend and her sister then contacted him and futher supported that there should be an article. This may or may not speak to how much race affects whether something gets covered. But in this case part of getting this article written was that people contacted the reporter and urged him to write an article.

Your insinuation that the victim is somehow to blame is sickening. Also, get the facts straight. The article said, He bought some cigarettes and walked to a building on Lincoln Avenue, a place where neighborhood kids wouldn't see him setting a bad example by lighting up." Also, the police declined to state what the evidence was, they did not say they had no evidence. A nice man was murdered. Why bring more pain with your ignorant post? You don't know if his family and friends read this blog. You should think before you comment.

what a tragedy; what a waste. how devastating and senseless.

close to occidental college. a mixed vibrant neighborhood...

today, so many children full of rage, kids with guns but no souls. concrete hearts. thug bravado. a culture addicted to violence where guns are a right, but not health care.

bless Chris's wife and family. we grieve with you for your loss.


Whoa, Jasmine. Got a chip on your shoulder? Please take it off, wipe your feet, and meditate.

"A mixed, vibrant neighborhood"? What's so "vibrant" about it? Sounds like the reporter added "vibrant" in order to take the edge off of the "mixed" part. Ave 46 and Lincoln is a place where no sane white person should venture.

I'll never understand why yuppies purposely move into areas that are not very good.

There is a term for these comments about race. It's called "reverse racism". This man's life was about serving others, all others, those who were in need according to the statistics. If he wasn’t senselessly gunned down, maybe he could have made a difference for spread of syphilis among gay men and the spread of chlamydia and gonorrhea among women of color and then gone on to serve another group in need. Why must you make it about race?

Sorry but I see both sides here.

This man was definitely a public servant doing a lot of good in a lower income neighborhood.. But his actions before his death don't add up, no wallet, no wedding band? Maybe it's nothing but getting shot in broad day light by a teenage Latino and it's not a robbery?!?!?

Something else is going on, a young baby gangster knows he isn't getting "points" for killing a middle age white man unless there is something else involved. Maybe the kid was surprised and thought he was a threat? Maybe it was a drug deal gone bad? Or he interrupted a drug deal? Prostitution? There are tons of possibilities but random is just a copout!

The truth is out there and I would agree with some of the criticism to the extent that the media is too quick to hang black and brown suspects as guilty, especially when many of their customers are white people providing financial incentive for crime.

Don't drop the ball LA Times! This story calls for some real investigative journalism.

Jasmine and Mike,

It’s a lot easier to imagine there was a clear motive to maintain a sense of safety for yourself - "as long as I don't do anything wrong I am safe". Well nobody is safe in this world and this defensive pattern and anger is so much easier than dealing face on with that reality. 2 people were shot in Altadena this week and a kid knocked over the head with a baseball bat in South Pasadena. Very nice neighborhoods. We risk such things in cities and in suburbs. In the country, there are guns and natural disasters that kill. The crimes of predominantly white neighborhoods certainly don’t compare – the suicides and attempts, the DUIs the date rapes, Virginia tech, Columbine and the Menendez brothers are all anomalies? And avenue 46 has all different "races" and is a great place to live, safer than most (per the police and crime stats) and getting nicer all the time, not because "yuppies" are moving in, but because Eagle Rock is prospering. He deserved to be shot because he is white is a WORPED statement and its also just wrong. He is not an anomaly in the neighborhood. There are plenty of "white" people on avenue 46! But as I said, that does not matter nor play any role here. And falling back on racist beliefs is lazy thinking and ignorant.

My husband was a cultural anthropologist, spoke Spanish and English to neighbors and we love the neighborhood. The police have confirmed there is no higher risk in the area for this crime and this incident had nothing to do with color, or with him. There is a lot more evidence than you know and you are both rather naive and scared I think. Please keep your own counsel rather than spout untruths. Why are you so obsessed with this topic that you read homicide reports of people you don't know?

Also Jasmine, Chris didn't like cigarette smoke, not smoking very often, and didn't want to stink up our house or anyone else's. He also didn't want to be seen by the kids next door. He was both happy and anxious just before he died, and was about to leave town for a talk that was important. He was allowed this vice and I am grateful for it because being a little loopy from the cigarette, he had no awareness of what was happy. Sounds like you read the article with your own preconceptions and without actually reading. He actually was a good, in fact great guy and smoking occasionally doesn't change that.

For the rest of you, than you for your words and I am sorry I have to clarify this at all. I wont be looking at this blog in future even though the majority of comments are both sane and compassionate, focusing on his life rather than conjecture and misinformation.

Lastly, Friends and I will be starting a non-profit for a dog park and swing area for local kids. Keep posted for Cristobol Dog Park.

I also asked that a longer article be considered about Chris, and at first they were not going to do it. I think that he was an organ donor, there was no provocation and the shock of this crime in a relatively good neighborhood made it unique to the Times. Of course everyone deserves an article and every life is valuable! I am sorry about your friends. Maybe you could create a webpage for them? Not the same, but maybe you will be able to help your own healing. Working on Chris's tribute through the cemetery really helped me.
Chris' wife

lets be done with all this "debate" ok?

Mrs. O'Leary,

You won't read these words but, very well writen! The difference between an educated writer and some of the postings that have appeared here its amazing! Your husbands life will be noted. God Speed to you and your family. And you are right this blog is non-sense. it it filled with well, it doesn't matter. I just found it by accident doing research. I won't be back either but, wanted to comment on your posting. Take care.

I find it fascinating that someone cherry-picks crimes that have happened in supposed white communities, all the way down to DUI's!

The fact of the matter is, LA city largely is a dump, and the fact of the matter is, if you live in a predominantly non-white area, you run a greater risk of being victimized, no matter how hard you bend over backwards to placate the natives.

I find it fascinating that someone cherry-picks crimes that have happened in supposed white communities, all the way down to DUI's!

The fact of the matter is, LA city largely is a dump, and the fact of the matter is, if you live in a predominantly non-white area, you run a greater risk of being victimized, no matter how hard you bend over backwards to placate the natives.

Lets wait and see how the story shakes out. Off course, this is White America, so the young Mexican boy MUST be guilty right?

Jasmine I applaud you for your courage to stand against the racism and prejudice which leads most Americans to PRESUME guilt over innocence.

What exactly happened before the shooting? Maybe the white man asked the young Mexican for drugs, or sexual favors, or both? maybe he tried to sexually assault this young Mexican boy, maybe the little boy shot him in self defense, or maybe he was offended by the white mans sexual advances?

IM NOT SAYING THATS WHAT HAPPENED but Im saying we dont know what happened so we have to look at ALL the circumstances. We all know that whites hate the ghetto and will never live or even walk there. The only oners who do are those who would exploit the poor chicano and black communities for drugs and illicit sex.

Why not tell the other side of the possibility? Maybe it was a justifiable shooting. Remember, do not judge lest ye be judged folks.

I think the problem lies in the way the story was written. As I said before, the piece was strewn with all sorts of odd little details that, although were often misread, created questions in the mind of some readers even when placed in the correct context . This has led to animosity between those commenting, and to an irate widow. It is just as well that she won't be back -- it never occurred to me that she might be reading a discussion which, by design, invites true crime buffs to weigh out a case and all its possible scenarios. This often occurs -- and did occur here -- because the reporter merely repeated details heard, and the editor did not pick up the tensions created by presenting a mass of facts that were not adequately weighed for their importance or completeness, or for their effect in context.

For example, the fact that Chris left his wedding ring and wallet behind. This suggests three possibilities: first, that he was someone who didn't always wear his wedding ring or carry his wallet. It can also mean that he purposely left them behind. Finally, the detail can indicate that he had no visible valuables on him when he went for his smoke -- no glint of gold on his finger and no outline of a wallet in his pocket -- and therefore his murder had nothing to do with robbery, or we have a gunman who takes vengeance on targets with nothing of value. But we don't know, because if the detail about the ring and wallet was truly important, the reporter did not carry it through.

Next, we have the description of a nervous, dancing Chris, keyed up about a presentation he was to give the following day in San Francisco. According to the article, he usually ran for exercise, but that day, he danced -- and remained nervous. And then he ate and drank a Bloody Mary -- and remained nervous. Then he wanted to smoke -- because he remained nervous. Here, a little phrase about what was so nerve wracking about the presentation would have helped. Was funding at stake? Would sucess bring a promotion or a raise? We know he wasn't shy around individuals and easily moved among people of all demographics -- he had to be that way, given his job. And we know someone who held a PhD would be familiar with public speaking, although this familiarity doesn't often help with the stage fright that is common to most before presenting data to a large group. So we don't know why Chris was nervous, why he couldn’t shake it off, or why this fact was meaningful because if the detail was truly important, the reporter did not carry it through.

Another puzzling detail -- the $5.50 Chris's wife gave him for the cigarettes. Had he spent all of his own cash when at the supermarket earlier that morning? Did she habitually dole out money to him as needed? Or does it merely say that when Chris smoked, he enjoyed cigarettes of a premium brand and that, since he had the cigarettes when he was shot and had left his wallet behind, he had nothing on him worth taking -- not even spare change -- when he walked over to the Sparkletts plant. We don't know, because if the detail about the cash his wife knew about was truly important, the reporter did not carry it through.

Next, we have the timeline: as the wife left for the gym, she handed Chris the money -- a very nervous Chris, we already know because the reporter hammered this point -- who seemed badly in need of the cigarettes and would have, in this smoker's opinion, galloped to the store. Bert's Liquor store is at the corner of Ave 46 and York. His house, based on the possibilities, could be no more than four blocks away, From the liquor store to the Sparkletts plant is two blocks. Even someone in very bad shape who constantly smoked could make the initial part of the journey to the store, buy the cigarettes and walk to the Sparkletts plant in no more than 15 minutes. Chris was in very good shape and badly in need of a smoke, so much so that maybe he left without his wallet and ring, so 15 minutes is the maximum it could have taken before he arrived at Sparkletts. But even the far reaches of Glendale are, at most, 20 minutes away by car from there, especially on Sunday. So if the wife turned around halfway to the gym, she would have arrived at the shooting scene twenty minutes after she left home. But by the time she got there, the paramedics had already arrived after receiving the call from dispatch at apx 12:55PM. The firehouse is two blocks away, just across York, so you know they were there in no time, and this scenario suggests that Chris was shot immediately upon arriving at the Sparkletts plant (15 minutes to get there, be shot, and then five minutes to have the shooting reported and responded to). But the article implies that the wife left somewhere around noon, and that Chris left for the store soon after. Had the reporter been careful, he might have noted the 55 minutes suggested by the article is far too long a time for the wife to have been on the road, even if she had made it all the way to the gym. So both would have had to have left somewhere closer to 12:30 rather than at noon, or else she stopped along the way. But had she stopped, or the journey took longer, this would indicate Chris was not shot immediately upon arriving at the Sparkletts plant, or he was delayed in some way before he could run and get his smokes. We don't know, because this detail about the timing *was* truly important, but the reporter did not carry it through.

Then we learn that Chris was shot in the upper body. Is this the chest or back? Was Chris facing the gunman or trying to run away? We don't know, because this detail was also truly important, but the reporter did not carry it through.

Finally, why did the wife turn around? After going through the trouble of getting ready and beginning her drive, why did she decide to return home? Did she have a premonition? Did a feeling cause her mistrust? Did she decide that she would rather smoke too? We don't know, because if the detail about why the wife turned around was truly important, the reporter did not carry it through.

This New LA Times, that so badly wants our "eyeballs," began the homicide blog to attract them. The mistake here was they decided to add a profile of Chris and the crime, and in this, blundered into dangerous territory. Instead of leaving it as it currently is -- a baffling and seemingly motiveless murder with a suspect awaiting trial -- we have instead an poorly written and edited article that leaves even the casual reader with the choice between at least three Chris O'Learys -- a Chris gunned down by some sort of psycho for some sort of reason in some sort of way that the reporter doesn't understand much about what happened or who it happened to, but wants to discuss it anyway, a nefarious Chris up to no good behind his mistrustful wife's back as described by a nefarious writer cunningly avoiding to openly report about Chris's sinister behavior, or a Chris who didn't really trust his "vibrant" neighborhood and a wife who really didn't trust it either. By taking this tact, the Los Angeles Times did a disservice to the victim, to his family, and to the neighborhood, and in publishing the profile as written, again proved its recent good intentions truly are paving a road to hell.

May God forgive you, for your negative comments about chris. I knew chris from work and he was the most easy going being in this world. even though he had a very high position at our company. His door was always open for "anyone". I am a Mexican, but chris never care about my color, my race or any other thing related to my culture. He spoke perfect spanish and had a wanderful heart. May God have him in his kingdom and bless his family to recover from this traumatic even.

You guys have issues! What makes you an authority on analyzing and dissecting a reporter's hommage to an accomplished person? In case you have not noticed, this is not a police report you are trying to decipher. Oh, he danced that morning instead of running - you are right, he must have tried to solicit sex from that youth who then acted in self-defense. CEC - get real, get a productive hobby or sign up with the LAPD if you are half the Sherlock you think you are! You may not realize it, but you are hurting people affected by this tragedy with your self-righteous drivel.

And Mildred, things must not have turned out as hoped for in your life since you find it so easy to blame the accomplished Ph.D. over the hoodlum. I do not know either of the two parties, but conventional wisdom tells me that the probability of the former being to blame instead of the latter is highly unlikely (albeit not impossible). But, for you to ride in on your high horse and somehow confusing the victims because of race is nothing short of bigotry.

I will ignore Jasmine's comments, as it is clearly evident that she does not have very strong reading and comprehension skills since she interpreted most of the story backwards and asked questions that were already answered in the article (do you need another explanation of why he did not smoke at home?)

Mike, I suspect you have never seen a racially diverse neighborhood from upclose. Everybody has a greater risk of being victimized in such a neighborhood. Period. From my personal experience you actually have less of a risk of being victimzed in those neighborhoods if you are white as compared to other races.

By the way, the reason I ended up on this post was due to reading several LAT stories on gang violence escalation. One common denominator you will find there is that the gang members perpetrating that violence are not white. I expect that all your self-annointed anthropologists' rebuttal will be that this is White America's fault for years of oppression, forcing blacks to smoke crack, etc. This does not explain why two of the non-white races are intent on wiping each other out in the US though. Also, if you read the news from Kenya and Mexico ,for example, and contrast them with the news from Denmark and Japan - maybe it is just in certain ethnicities' DNA to be more violent? So, take some responsibility for once and fix your own problems. Or you can just blame the white Ph.D...

My heartfelt condolences go out to everybody affected by this tragedy.

I live a block away from the deceased gentleman, and regularly saw him jog past my house (joggers are definitely not commonplace on our street). For what it is worth, I never saw him act peculiar in any way. For lack of a better expression, my heart goes out to his family. Walking to the corner store for a cola owned by my sikh friend won't be the same for a long time.

Hey, I am Christopher's mother. The hurt and pain that I am experiencing is universal. No mother should lose a child. The fact is that LA loses two a day!!! That is a fact. And it does not make the pain go away. Christopher and I had a wonderful experience together. He was a great son and brother does not make this better. Guns are a bad thing in the wrong hands. Why are we arguing about race, let's discuss violence and safety for everyone. God bless our Chris.

Has this case been solved yet? Was there any motive for the shooting? Anyone know?

The seeming randomness makes it all the more disturbing... and the fact that the supposed perpetrator had just come into town from Nevada.

My utmost condolences go out to the friends and family. Some pretty whacked out stuff has been posted in the comments here, but keep in mind that it's just the Internet: sometimes people forget that there are other live humans on the other end.

The apparent randomness of this crime is shocking and disturbing. As a community member, I would like to know what is happening with the investigation and prosecution. Unfortunately, juvenile prosecutions are closed to the public. Unless the murderer is being tried as an adult, there is no way of tracking this.

My sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. O'Leary. From what I have read, he sounds like an incredible person.

Youth Charged in Murder
of Behavioral Scientist

June 27, 2008
Contacts: Joe Scott, Director of Communications
Sandi Gibbons, Public Information Officer
Jane Robison, News Secretary
Shiara Dávila, Assistant PIO
(213) 974-3525

LOS ANGELES – A 17-year-old boy, ruled unfit to be tried as a minor earlier this week, was charged today with murder for the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old behavioral scientist.

Assistant Head Deputy David R. Lopez of Central Complaints said Herbert Alejandro Salvador, (dob 07/03/90), is charged in case No. BA342646 with one count of murder with an enhancement of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing death. The defendant is due to be arraigned this afternoon at Los Angeles Superior Court, Department 30.

Prosecutors allege that the defendant shot and killed Christopher O’Leary, a behavioral scientist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, on Jan. 20. While sitting at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Avenue 46 in northeast Los Angeles, the victim was allegedly approached by the defendant who raised a handgun and shot him once in the head. The victim died that night.

Police arrested Salvador 10 days after the shooting following an intensive investigation. The defendant, who spent most of his youth in Nevada and moved to Los Angeles last year, resided in the Highland Park area with a relative.

Bail for the defendant was recommended at $2 million. If convicted as charged, Salvador faces 50 years to life in state prison.

I am so sad. I turned to this page to see if any further details of my cousin's murder had been reported. The love and value for human life that Chris exhibited since the day he was born would certainly transcend the vehement comments by some on this blog. I didn't know him well in later life due to family circumstances, i.e. not a "perfect" life. But, I was always proud of him, and I knew him to be a smiling, fun loving, people loving, intelligent person. I hope that your city can reconcile it's racial dynamics.

This person is being tried as an adult. We made sure of that at the hearing. Scary person didnt look at us once. I dont think we will ever know a motive, what was in this person's head. He will never hurt others

Mildred, 46th and Lincoln isn't the "ghetto." It's a mixed neighborhood. There are many latinos, whites, and some asians that live in the area. There is even now a Starbucks nearby. I shop at the Fresh & easy not so far from there every week. It's also about two blocks from Occidental College - a good university where Barack Obama started his college career. I would venture to say the whites that DON'T live in the Eagle Rock/Highland Park/Mount Washington area are the ones who would be more likely to be called "racist."

I am sorry that you feel it's okay for ANYONE who is unarmed to be shot in the head in the middle of broad daylight. I am sorry that your circumstances in life have made you feel this might be okay. I am sorry that the boy who shot him couldn't find his way in life, and didn't have the outlets or resources from family or society that might have been able to help him with the pain in his own life. I am sorry for those people who don't value their life or the lives of others.

With the death of Chris O'Leary the world has clearly lost someone who was only beneficial to society and the human race. His accomplishments and what he made of himself in his life are clear. His loss is especially painful because it was a waste. My heart goes out to his family.

You guys are so ignorant. You aren't even looking at the whole picture. I'm sorry for your loss. But, GET REAL!!!!Don't go judging my brother.. Leo

Dont judge guys have no idea what the truth is!!

Leonardo Jose Zamora,

You are right we do not know all the details. However, the details that are known are this your brother killed someone. What a shame that he did not have better supervison. Too bad he did not have someone to turn to for help with whatever he was going through. But your brother's sadness or whatever else he was going through does not excuse his actions. Soon a jury will fine him guilty and all this will be over. Well as over as can be for someone who is only 17 years old spending the rest of his life in prison. What in the world drives someone to pick up a gun and shot someone? On the other hand there are no excusses, just actions. Your brother will be judged by the jury and then by society who will fight to keep this dangerous dangerous person in prison. Victims unite it's the only way we are going to win.


so what was the whole point to your comment??? just to put down the family of the accused??? yes, the 17 year old may have had some troubles & yes i agree that there is never a reason why someone should take a life (unless there is a high purpose), but there is also no reason to be going after anyone here. both parties are grieving & they each deal in there own manner. have some respect at least!!!! do you honestly need to be throwing things in peoples faces??? you act as if though no one knows what happens when you go to trial....have more respect!!!!!

melissa lopez, Kayle Tessa Marie Hernandez, Leonardo Jose Zamora .... just what is the issue?

The defendants family mean little in the eyes of many. Its the deceased's family that we care about.

And what do you mean "dont judge him"? Is it not true that he gunned down a productive member of society in cold blood?

Ms. Lopez,
There is never a reason to take a life unless there is a purpose? Are you kidding me? What purpose did this killer have? What did this victim do to him? Thank goodness you are not his lawyer if this is your biggest argument for why he should get off, he had a purpose when he killed him. We just don't know it yet right? Why is it that most of the time the argument both parties are grieving? What does the killer's family have to grieve about? He did this to them! The victim did not take his own life. I think you got the point to my posting, there is NEVER a reason to take the life of someone given the circumstances that are known so far. This man walking down the street. No threat to the killer at all. No Ms. Lopez there is never a reason or justification to commit such a crime not even a purpuse as you put it. Purpuse, as if the killer was born to kill this one person and as though the killer has now some how reached a level of divine forgiveness. Seriously, maybe it was just the choice of words but I doubt very seriously that anyone is put on this earth for just a divine purpose as to commit murder. Nice try though.

Man Convicted of Behavioral Scientist’s Murder

November 17, 2009
Contacts: Joe Scott, Director of Communications
Sandi Gibbons, Public Information Officer
Jane Robison, News Secretary
Shiara Dávila-Morales, Assistant PIO
(213) 974-3525

LOS ANGELES – A 19-year-old man was convicted today of the first-degree murder of a Los Angeles County behavioral scientist, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Von Helmolt said jurors deliberated for 40 minutes before returning the verdict. Jurors additionally found true the allegation that the defendant personally discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury or death.

The sanity phase of the trial begins Nov. 19 in Department 119 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Herbert Alejandro Salvador, who was 17 at the time of the murder, fatally shot Christopher O’Leary, 34, a behavioral scientist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, on Jan. 20, 2008.

The victim, who was approached by the defendant at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Avenue 46 in northeast Los Angeles, was shot once in the head. O’Leary died that night.

Officers of the Los Angeles Police Department’s northeast station arrested Salvador on Jan. 30, following an intensive investigation. Salvador lived two blocks from where the shooting took place, authorities said.

Race????? Huh!!!! When Mr. Salvador was caught ten days after the first crime, he had a loaded gun with a bullet in the chamber!!!!! One can only surmize from his actions that he was going to kill again!!! The only thing that helped this case is the fact that the whole thing was caught on 7 cameras. Wake up LA you have a problem with youth, violence, and crime. How would you like your son to be shot in broad daylight on a sunday by a perfect stranger?????? Get real. This was a thrill kill by an evil monster who was going to do it again. He needs to go away for a long, long, time. do you think it's okay now??????? How about you own family members???? Do they deserve this????

It would have been nice to read the details of the trial in the newspaper and not leave Chris O'Leary's mom to fill in the details.

The community was aghast about this seemingly motiveless killing and the reporting has caused many to doubt the victim, doubt the details, and doubt the journalism. Focused coverage would have spared everyone involved.

40 minutes to get a murder conviction? Wow, the evidence must have been overwhelming.

Why was Dr. O'Leary so nervous? He was nervous because this brilliant, brilliant man had published eight journal articles.They were published in scientific journals. On January 21, 2008, he was going to present them at several conferences beginning in San Franciso. It may have also a job interview and promotion with the CDC. A big-wig with the CDC was to be attending this conference in San Franciso to evaluate Christopher. If promoted, Dr. O'Leary could have moved closer to his family. This was a major opportunity for him.

Mr. Salvador was found sane. He will not be receiving any special treatment in terms of sentencing. Evidence against him is overwhelming. He confessed to this crime. Be thankful this evil creature is off the streets. It could have been your loved one. Unfortunately, it was mine. God I miss my boy. Merry Christmas

Judge Lomeli told Mr. Salvador that, "He feels sorry for the family." He went on to state, "it's just human nature to have a reason why something has happened. In this case there is no reason. It was a senseless crime." He further stated, "You're going to have a lot of time to think about it." It was mandated by law that Mr. Salvador receive 25 years to life for first degree murder (premeditated and 25 years to life for use of a handgun (special enhancement). Mr. Salvador won't be getting out anytime soon. Thank God.


About the Reporters
The Homicide Report is compiled using information from the Los Angeles County coroner's office, local law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Times. It is written by Times staff writers.

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