Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Outrage grows over killing of baby boy; officials expected to offer $50,000 reward


The Los Angeles City Council is expected to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who killed a baby boy in Van Nuys over the weekend.

Councilman Tony Cardenas, who represents the district, is seeking the reward as outrage over the baby's killing continued to grow. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked for the public's help in bringing the killers to justice, calling the shooting an "obscene and unspeakable tragedy."

Marlene Ramirez and Frank Garcia didn't have a lot, but they were devoted to their 4-month-old son, Andrew, relatives said Monday. "He was their life," said Veronica Munoz, Ramirez's cousin.

On Monday, Garcia, 21, a warehouse worker, and Ramirez, 18, were making funeral arrangements for their baby, a day after he was killed and two others were wounded in what police say was a gang-related shooting in Van Nuys.

The killing happened about 1 a.m. Sunday in the 14300 block of Kittridge Street as the young couple prepared to drive home from a friend's baptismal celebration, Los Angeles police said.

Two unidentified male suspects remained at large and were last seen fleeing on foot. One was described as 18-to-22 years old and about 5-foot-9 with a shaved head. The other is about 5-foot-5 and weighs about 200 pounds, police said.

Witnesses spotted a brown pickup filled with recyclables leaving the area shortly after the shooting. Police said the vehicle could be linked to the crime.

The family's Saturday evening had started out happily at the baptismal party at the Bernardi Multipurpose Center on Tyrone Avenue. After leaving the party about midnight, they agreed to drop off Anna Contreras, 28, a friend who lived nearby, before driving to their North Hollywood home, Munoz said.

Andrew had begun fussing, Munoz said her cousin told her, and the couple parked their car outside Contreras' house so that Contreras could give him a bottle. Garcia got out of the car and was chatting with friends when two men approached the group on foot and a confrontation took place, Munoz said.

Police said the suspects fired six rounds from a shotgun, striking Contreras and baby Andrew in the head. They also hit Eric Ramirez, 18, a family friend who was standing outside the car with Garcia. The mother, in the car with Contreras, was not injured.

The 4-month-old was airlifted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. Munoz said doctors were initially upbeat about his condition but about 4 a.m. informed the family that he had died.

"Marlene said, 'Why did God bring him to me if he was going to take him away so quickly?'" Munoz said tearfully.

Contreras, who is pregnant, underwent surgery at a hospital and is expected to survive, said LAPD Det. Robert Bub. Eric Ramirez suffered minor injuries and was treated at a hospital and released, said his mother, Maria Ramirez, who went to the scene Monday.

Maria Ramirez said her son told her that the two men who approached the group demanded to know where they were from. Her son responded "Barrio Van Nuys" and the two men fired at them, Maria Ramirez said.

Police said that Eric Ramirez is a known gang member and that the baby's father has had "minor" associations with gangs. Family members said neither is affiliated with gangs.

After the shooting, Marlene Ramirez ran down the street with Andrew in her arms, looking for help, her cousin said. A neighbor persuaded the young mother to sit on the grass and wait for an ambulance, Munoz said.

On Monday, a trail of blood drops leading from the site of the shooting to the end of the block could be seen on the sidewalk. A teddy bear memorial, with votive candles and balloons, marked the spot where Andrew was hit.

Frank Garcia works in a warehouse, and Marlene Ramirez has a job at McDonald's, Munoz said. Marlene Ramirez is attending a local continuation school to finish her high school classes, the cousin said.

"She wanted to get a better job for Andrew," Munoz said.

The gritty neighborhood where the shooting took place is made up of modest homes and apartments and is just blocks from the Van Nuys police station and civic buildings, including the Van Nuys Courthouse. Neighbors said that they are used to police helicopters and sirens but that shootings on their block are rare.

Violent crime has generally declined in Van Nuys over the last two years, Los Angeles Police Department records show. Homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults fell 25% between 2007 and the year to date.

Gang-related crime has also fallen, said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. In 2002, there were 49 victims of gang violence compared with 18 for the year to date, Moore said. But police cautioned that spikes in gang-related shootings occur despite strides in reducing crime.

Neighbors and relatives said they hoped to see quick arrests.

"It's such a tragic thing for anybody to die," said Johnna Hodges, 58, who lives three houses away from where the shooting took place. "But a baby -- it just tugs at your heart."

-- Catherine Saillant and Ann M. Simmons

Photo: Andrew Garcia, a 4-month-old killed in an apparent gang-related attack early Sunday, is remembered at a vigil on the site where the shooting took place. The family was returning home from a baptismal party. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (50)

To top it off, they tag trees too (no pun intended). I say punish the employer who gives these people incentive to come here and breed these hate filled low lifes.

To all of you, the anger should be at the stupidity of the person who took that baby out that late to a party.That baby should have been at home with a sitter or grand mother, or better yet should have home with its mother. What are these kind of people thinking who just live their life around them selves and not around the baby. it is pure and nothing more than just stupid.

I think it is very inappropriate to have an infant out at a party at that hour in a dangerous neighborhood. They have some responsibility for having the infant out and exposed to an unsafe environment.

Let's be honest. This outrage will have no practical result. This will be just one more story that gets told. Why? Because we live in a city/county where thugs with guns regularly get away with murder while our DA takes aim at a 76 year old film director in another country who commited a decades old crime. We need all the might of the DA's office, as well as law enforcement agencies, to target these groups and stop their reign of violence. These gangs are criminal enterprises. Their members are criminal co-conspirators. We think we can stop terrorism around the world? We can not end the terror on our own streets.

It may have been a family celebration but One a.m. in the morning, come on. No excuse for a baby to be out that late any way i don't care what kind of part it is...

And God gave you a brain to make appropriate decisions not to watch over you and protect you from your own stupidity!

Richard - it was a BAPTISMAL party for the baby. "These kind of people" were celebrating their baby. But your comments certainly demonstrate exactly what "kind of person" you are. New word for your vocabulary: c-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n. Look it up.

Richard hit the nail on the head! What are these people doing out at 1:00am on a Sunday with a 4 month old. Hanging out on a street mouthing off to passersby who happened to be carrying guns....

I do not know the family at all. Most of all, i am not here to judge. i hust want to say I am truly very sorry for your lost! i could only imagine how it must feel to lose your new born baby. May God bless you! and i will keep you all in my prayers.

I disagree, the anger should be towards the Gangs, not Illegals this story was never about illegals anyway.
People who are uneducated or just plain believe that everyone with a different color skin is here illegally.
Get over it people redirect your anger to the proper place. GANGS ARE TERROIZING MANY MANY NEIGHBORHOODS IN LOS ANGELES.
Get back to neighborhood watches and regular group walks through your neighborhood and report any thing suspicious, this should get more police presence in your area.
I feel bad for the parents of the baby, regardless if the parents are in a gang or not. A child lost their life due to the fact that people think they are on opposing sides. The only thing that I ever see that is opposing is that there is one side of the street and the other and to me this is a non issue.
Violence begets Violence and Hate begets Hate. When the human race starts believing that maybe we will get on track to know that killing is wrong and hate should never be in your mind, and helping your neighbor is more rewarding than violence.

punish the employer????
you're crazy. That kid shouldn't have replied barrio van nuys if they wanted any chance of survival.

Eric Ramirez and the baby's father are also stupid for being part of gangs. It's unfortunate that the only true innocent person was the baby, who happened to be the only fatal victim.

Hello Joy - it was "a friend's baptismal celebration", which probably took place Saturday afternoon. The babies' parents were at a freaking party, drinking and carrying on with an INFANT! Then they sit outside at 1 am in an area known for gangs, looking like gang members and even having gang members with them - so why is this a surprise?

These guys are doing exactly what the Talibans are doing in Afganistan. Terrorize!!! Do we need a mafia society running our goverment?

Why does it matter if it was 1:00am or 1:00pm? Regardless of the hour, what gives someone the right to pull out a shot gun and kill somebody? The problem here is the gang affiliation...and btw, gangs are not just latino based. They come in all ethnicities. I think another horrible tragedy is the reality of how ignorant and callous people can be.

The only gunshots I want to hear now are the ones these killers deserve - at their own public executions. We should tie them to a post, as the nation watches, and shoot them DEAD. They are useless, morally vacant scum and this is a message we have been too cowardly to send for way too long. Go on, starting with little Andrew Garcia, count the innocent dead and then tell me we are not cowards for not sending a strong message that this is will not be tolerated any more. Isn't it about time?

Just get rid of scum bag gang bangers. Change the law. If you are in a gang you go to a prison in the middle of the desert surrounded by 5 layers of electrified barb wire fence and some armed gards. If you want a/c or heating, you sit your dumb behind on a stationary bike and generate elctricity for it. To TV, weights or anything like that. They do a food and water drop in whenever. And that will be you lousy existance.

Just get rid of scum bag gang bangers. Change the law. If you are in a gang you go to a prison in the middle of the desert surrounded by 5 layers of electrified barb wire fence and some armed guards. If you want a/c or heating, you sit your dumb behind on a stationary bike and generate elctricity for it. No TV, weights or anything like that. They do a food and water drop in whenever. And that will be you lousy existance.

Psychopathic behavior and gangs have ruin Los Angeles for me years ago. I see that nothing has changed and that more inocent lives are still being lost. i am glad to have moved away to a place that more people are less inclined to behave in unlawful and immoral ways.

Latino gangbangers killing other Latino gang bangers/associates oh well and the latino gang banging culture continues its decline! too bad this little child had to have a gang banging/associate family he didn't stand a chance the second he was born!

This is wrong in so many ways it's hard to know where to begin.

As Bertolt Brecht once said "Our 'leaders' are voting in a new 'people"-Open Borders enthusiasts such as George W. Bush, Antonio Villaraigoso, Juan McCain, Obama ad nauseum are ultimately at fault.

Illegal aliens are criminals, their presence in our borders is a violation of law. Why are we surprised when they behave in a lawless manner?

lisa is right- they tag everything to show that THEY "own" it.

Employers privatize profits but socialize costs. When an illegal falls off of a roof who pays?

YOU and I do!

When their children act like morons we ALL pay!

The murder of this innocent child is TOO high a price for "political correct" madness such as Villaraigosos "sanctuary city" policy

Sanctuary for whom?

Richard is right. NO responsible parent has an infant out that late at night, with known gang members. Certainly, the killer or killers need to be caught and punished -- preferably executed -- but that does not excuse the parents for putting their child so obviously and so clearly in harm's way.

I don't think there was ANTHING inappropriate about taking their baby to the cristening. I can't believe that Chandler Hill is defending child rapist, Polanski. He did it and he fled. I thought this country was about justice for all. I feel horrible for this young family losing their baby and I hope the guilty parties will be found and prosecuted. I believe the LA justice system can handle this case along with Polanski simultaneously.

Shame shame, people. Don't blame the victims.

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: