LA PUENTE — Homicide detectives are seeking clues into the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old La Puente father in a driveway in front of his home late Thursday, authorities said.
Tomas Salas died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Little information was available regarding the 11:13 p.m. attack, which occurred in a shared residential driveway on Sierra Vista Court at Gilwood Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“The individual was by himself in a driveway,” Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “Witnesses heard a gunshot and came out and found him.”
A family member found Salas wounded in the “upper torso” and called for help, she said.
While several people reported hearing a gunshot or gunshots, no eyewitnesses to the shooting had been located Friday, officials said.
No arrests had been made early Friday, and no suspect description was available.
Salas is survived by a two year-old daughter named Kaylene, his girlfriend and the girl’s mother Krystle Silva said. He had been staying with Silva and Silva’s 10-year-old daughter, Samantha Rodriguez, who also had a close relationship with him.
Silva said she was inside her apartment folding laundry and Salas was just outside talking to his niece on his cell phone when she heard gunshots.
“When I looked outside, he was lying face-first on the grass,” she said.
“I put my arms around him just to let him know I was there,” Silva said. “When I put my arms around him, that’s when I felt all the blood and his chest was warm.”
“I told him to hang on. (Help) is coming. I told him he can’t leave. Kaylene needs him.”
Silva was still trying to breathe when paramedics arrived, Silva said.
The paramedics walked over to Salas and checked his pulse before laying him on his back she said.
Francisco said the shooting was being investigated as possibly gang-related.
Silva confirmed that Salas was involved with a local street gang. She added that his association with a gang did not justify his slaying, however it may have played a role in it.
“I don’t know who did this or why they did it,” she said. “Whatever happened, it was gang-related.”
Silva’s eyes filled with tears as she spoke of Salas.
“He was my world,” she said. “I love him with every part of me.”
The couple had been dating for four years, but had only recently gotten back together about two weeks ago after being separated for nine months, Silva said.
But even when living separately from Silva, Salas remained a dedicated father and went to court to obtain three days of custody per week.
“He loved his daughter. Everything he did was for her,” Silva said.
The energetic 2-year-old happily exclaimed “daddy” upon seeing a picture of her father. Silva said she has asked several times when her father is coming home, to which she responds that her father is an angel now.
Salas had been laid off from his job at a landfill , where he had worked for about a year, a month ago, Silva said.
She described him as friendly and funny.
“He was always joking. He was goofy. He was silly,” Silva said. “He was a very happy, outgoing guy who liked to have fun. He was just a great dad.”
Tomas Salas, 23, of La Puente (center) was fatally shot near his home in the 15800 block of Sierra Vista Court late Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. He’s pictured celebrating his 22nd birthday with daughter Kaylene Salas (lap), girlfriend Kristle Silva (right) and Silva’s daughter Samantha Rosriguez (left). (Courtesy)