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Sheriff's Explorers seek witnesses in slaying of one of their own

Memorial to slain sheriff's ExplorerDozens of teenage Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Explorers went door-to-door Saturday in the unincorporated area of South Whittier looking for witnesses to the drive-by shooting death of a member of their unit.

Nineteen-year-old Cesar Rodriguez of Whittier was fatally shot as he chatted with a friend Aug. 28 in front of a house in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue. The friend, Larry Villegas, 24, also died in the shooting.

Investigators said the shots were fired about 3:30 a.m. by the driver of a gray Scion sedan. Three or four other people were in the car, deputies said.

Sheriff's homicide Dets. Sgt. Mike Rodriguez, who is unrelated to the victim, and Gary Sica gave the Explorers advice before they fanned out through the neighborhood. The Explorers and the adult volunteers were told to alert deputies if they encountered witnesses to the shooting.

Norwalk Sheriff's Capt. Patrick Maxwell acknowledged the seriousness of Saturday's neighborhood canvassing. "Unfortunately, this is something you'll experience again if you go into law enforcement," he said.


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Photo: L.A. County Sheriff's Department Explorers Alexis Frenes, 16, and Mariah Banks, 17, pause as they approach a makeshift memorial at the scene where fellow Explorer Cesar Rodriguez and his friend were shot to death. "Come on, let's find out who did this," Frenes said after a brief pause, urging her colleague to keep going. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report

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