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Killing of high school soccer player still a mystery

January 13, 2012 | 10:00 am

Francisco Rodriguez memorial

Investigators were still trying to determine Friday who shot a 17-year-old high school soccer player outside his San Fernando Valley home.

Friends, relatives and school officials who knew Francisco Rodriguez Jr. have been struggling to understand what may have provoked his killing. He has been described as a popular student and a role model for other members of the soccer teams at El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, where he was a senior.

A television station reported Friday that police were preparing to issue a search warrant in the case, but a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department would not confirm that.

Police have said Rodriguez was targeted.

As family members told the story, a girl with red hair knocked on the front door of Rodriguez's home in Winnetka just after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Rodriguez, who had recently gotten home after a soccer game, answered it and told his mother he would be outside.

Seconds later, shots rang out and he was lying face-down on the lawn. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

In April, Rodriguez’s close friend was killed on his bicycle by a hit-and-run driver. The driver, a 23-year-old woman, was arrested four months later. Police said the deaths are not related.

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-- Alan Zarembo

Photo: Brenda Ortega, 17, places a eddy bear at a makeshift memorial Thursday for her cousin Francisco Rodriguez Jr., who was shot and killed in front of his home. Credit: Anne Cusack/ Los Angeles Times