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L.A. County sheriff's volunteer killed in Whittier shooting

August 28, 2011 |  4:08 pm

A 19-year-old volunteer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Explorer program was killed in a drive-by shooting in unincorporated Whittier early Sunday, a sheriff's deputy said.

Cesar Rodriguez, 19, had volunteered at the sheriff's Norwalk Station for four years and had applied to become a deputy, according to Sgt. Mike Mendoza.

"He was very well liked at the station," Mendoza said of Rodriguez, whom he described as "a very upstanding guy."

He said Rodriguez had worked his way up through the ranks of the Explorers, becoming a member of the elite color guard.

He said Rodriguez, like many Explorers, had dreamed of becoming a deputy and was in the process of being screened for employment. Applicants have to be about 20 years old to become deputies, Mendoza said.

"He was almost of the age to finally go that route," Mendoza said.

The motive of the shooting was not clear, according to Deputy Bill Brauberger.

Brauberger said Rodriguez and a friend were standing in front of a residence in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue about 3:10 a.m. when a gray Scion sedan drove up. The driver pulled out a handgun and fired several shots, Brauberger said, striking Rodriguez and his friend.

Brauberger said the residence was not Rodriguez's home, and it was not clear why the men were there.

There were three or four suspects in the Scion, which was seen heading northbound on Painter Avenue, he said.

Rodriguez and the other shooting victim died at the scene, Brauberger said. The name of the other man, who was not an Explorer, had not been released Sunday afternoon.


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--Molly Hennessy-Fiske