COVINA — A man died at the scene of a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Covina early Sunday.
An official coroner’s identification was not initially available, however, family members gathered at the scene of the shooting Sunday morning identified him as 23-year-old Thomas Fernandez of Covina.
Police received calls about 3:35 a.m. reporting gunshots in the 300 block of North Vecino Drive, Covina police officials said in a written statement. Simultaneously, a nearby officer also heard a gunshot coming from the area and headed toward it.
Officers found the victim suffering from a gunshot wound in a carport east of the 200 block of Vecino Drive, police said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
“Preliminary information indicated the victim was on the sidewalk and exchanged words with an unknown suspect who fired a shot which struck the victim,” according to the statement. “The victim then ran a short distance where he collapsed and died.”
No suspect description or motive was available.
Fernandez left behind a 22-month-old son, said his girlfriend and the mother of the boy, Jessica Martinez.
“He was the best dad,” she said through tears. “He was always there for my son.”
“He was a great person. He had the biggest heart ever,” she added. “He would always forgive people so easily.”
He loved rap music and dreamed of becoming a rapper, she added.
At a memorial of candles that appeared on the spot where Fernandez died in the carport area behind an apartment building, friends, family members and neighbors paid their respects.
Some lit candles and prayed before the memorial, while other poured beer onto the ground as a tribute.
Though he had associated with a gang in the past and had friends still involved with it, he was not a gang member, Martinez said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Covina police Detective Anthony Zavala at 626-384-5622. Tips also may be submitted anonymously by contacting L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO: Friends and family members pay respects at a memorial on the site where Thomas Fernandez died following an early-morning shooting on Vecino Drive in Covina on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. (Brian Day)