Romantic rivalry may be at center of soccer player's slaying
A 17-year-old El Camino Real High School goalie was targeted for personal reasons by a man and woman who lured him out of his home last week, then fatally shot him, authorities said.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, police announced the arrests of Elizabeth Ibarra, 19, of the San Fernando Valley and Jason Shumann, 24, of Calabasas. Both suspects have extensive criminal records, police said.
Francisco Javier Rodriguez Jr. had just gotten home from a soccer game when a mysterious redhead knocked on the front door of his Winnetka home the night of Jan. 11 and persuaded him to come outside. Rodriguez told his family that he was stepping outside and was almost immediately shot by a man in a waiting SUV.
"We don't believe it is gang-related....We believe it is personally motivated," said LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas.
Detectives believe Rodriguez may have been fatally shot over a romantic relationship, sources told The Times. The popular student had no gang ties but may have been involved with a woman with a jealous male friend, sources said. They provided no additional details.
Rodriguez died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center of multiple gunshot wounds.
Within hours of the slaying, Rodriguez's teammates and coaches were at his home, calling upon the community to help track down the killers.
A 15-member LAPD task force made the arrests on Monday night after tracking down a green Ford Explorer that witnesses saw fleeing the shooting scene.
Family members said they did not recognize the woman, who had red hair. Police said Tuesday that Ibarra is not a natural redhead. Authorities believe she dyed her hair to throw off witnesses and authorities.
An anonymous tip helped authorities make the arrest, police said. But they are asking the tipster to contact them to help confirm the motives in the case.
Classmates described Rodriguez as popular and outgoing.
On the night he died, Rodriguez made several saves in a game against Taft High School.
This week against Cleveland High, the team began the game by leaving the position between the goal posts open in Rodriguez's honor.
-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Police announced the arrests of two suspects -- Elizabeth Ibarra (left) and Jason Shuman (right) -- in the slaying of high school soccer player Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Credit: Richard Winton / Los Angeles Times