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Murder-suicide claims the life of a 16-year-old Lincoln Heights girl, police say

November 7, 2009 | 11:15 am

A 20-year-old man shot and killed his teenage girlfriend Friday night during a domestic dispute in Lincoln Heights before turning the gun on himself, police said

The shooting was reported about 8:30 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 2400 block of Daly Street. Police officers of LAPD's Hollenbeck Division found a teenage girl dead from a gunshot wound to the back of the head, said LAPD Officer Gregory Baek. She was identified by the LAPD as Maria Valderrama, 16.

A short time later, as police searched for the gunman, the 20-year-old man, identified by police as Juan Carlos Mendez, was found in a nearby alley with a gunshot wound to the chest area, Baek said.

"At some point, either at the scene or in the ambulance, he admitted to shooting the girl," Baek said.

Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said Mendez and Valderrama had been dating for two years and were involved in a dispute at the apartment when Mendez allegedly shot her. He then fled and shot himself nearby, Baek said.

-- Ruben Vives

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