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'He remained a strong person to the very end'

August 15, 2008 |  3:18 pm

Luis_sandoval71_2Every morning, before his day started, Luis Sandoval, 70, went on a bicycle ride near his home. It was routine, family members said.

So on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007, Sandoval went on his usual bike ride. About 5 a.m., he was at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Hicks Avenue — just four houses away from his home — when two rival taggers began shooting at each other, authorities said. Sandoval was struck by the gunfire.

Although wounded, he rode back home on his bike and called police. Paramedics and deputies from the East L.A. County sheriff's station responded to his call, authorities said.

Sandoval was taken by ambulance to County-USC Medical Center. At the hospital, doctors told his family that his chances of recovering from the gunshot wound were not good. "I remained hopeful," said Sandoval's daughter, Angelica Sandoval, 36. "I felt his strength."

Four months later, on June 13, Sandoval, a father of six children, died from the gunshot wound.

On Friday morning, Aug. 15, at the Sherman Block Sheriff's Headquarters in Monterey Park, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and sheriff's homicide detectives announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and convictions of Sandoval's killers. "Luis Sandoval was a hard-working, retired steel worker with a large family," Molina said.

At the news conference, Angelica Sandoval said her father kept a positive outlook on life while overcoming many of his struggles. She said at the age of 5 or 6, her father became separated from his family.  She said she doesn't know how it happened; if her father was abandoned or got lost. For a while, as she put it, her father was a niño de La calle (boy from the street). A man later took him in and raised him. She said her father never complained about his childhood life.

Other family members said their father was a hard worker, strong and a courageous person who always made himself available to anyone who needed his help.   

"I drew so much strength from him," Angelica Sandoval said. Her older brother, standing next to her, added, "He remained a strong person to the very end."

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call call detectives from the L.A. County sheriff's homicide bureau at (323) 890-5500. Callers can remain anonymous.

—Ruben Vives / Los Angeles Times