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Grandfather remembers robbery that led to grandson's death

January 10, 2012 |  4:08 pm


Danilo Morales Homicide Photo 3
Manuel Flores made a simple trip to a supermarket a mile from his home in Sun Valley for calling cards to telephone a son in Guatemala, never realizing his life would change forever.

Moments after returning home Monday night, his grandson, Danilo Morales, 24, lay dying in the street.

Flores said he had parked his minivan behind the house when three youths emerged from the backyard shadows, at least one of them armed.

“Don’t cause trouble,” one of them told Flores in Spanish, using a term for trouble – “bulla” -- that is common in Central America, the family says.

Flores said he handed over his wallet, a chain and keys to the minivan. They threw his keys away. He was trying to remove a bracelet when he yelled, “They’re robbing me,” then dove to the side. One of the youths fired a bullet that hit the back door of his house.

The commotion alerted several family members inside the house. Danilo Morales bounded out the front door and after the young assailants, who had run to an SUV  around the corner.

Morales caught up to them as they were speeding off. He swung his fist at their rear window.

“It broke,” said Jose Avila, his cousin, “and that’s when they shot him.”

The bullet hit Morales in the head and he died near that alley as the youths sped off in what police are describing as a white Mitsubishi Montero with red stripes.

On Tuesday, a memorial of candles and flowers stood a few feet from the place where Morales fell. Mourners described Morales as a young man with some ambition and as a talented soccer goalie.

All day Tuesday, television news vans lined Coldwater Canyon Avenue in front of the family home, as family and friends descended on the Flores clan with food and embraced relatives.

“If it was me, I probably would have done the same thing,” said Jose Avila, Morales' cousin, as he stood yards from his grandfather, who sat grieving under a patio awning. “He was trying to protect his family.”


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 -- Sam Quinones


Photo: Manuel Flores at his Sun Valley home. Credit: Sam Quinones/Los Angeles Times