MONROVIA >> Determined homicide investigators and devastated family members reached out to the public on Thursday to help find the gunman who killed one teenager and wounded another in an attack inside a Monrovia garage last month.
Eighteen-year-old Canyon Oaks High School senior Oscar Andrew Garcia died in the late-night shooting on April 22 in the detached garage of a back house in the 100 block of West Cypress Street, just west of Myrtle Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
A 17-year-old boy was wounded in the shooting, and a teenage girl escaped injury.
Garcia and the other shooting victim did not live at the home, but were visiting the girl when the shooting took place, officials said.
“All three entered the garage and were hanging out as most teenagers do,” Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “Suddenly, and without provocation, the suspect appeared at the garage door and pointed a handgun toward them. A brief verbal exchange occurred and the suspect opened fire.”
Detectives declined to discuss what words were spoken in the moments before the shooting.
Paramedics pronounced Garcia dead at the scene. “His male friend was struck by gunfire but miraculously survived his injuries,” Mendoza said.
Following the shooting, the gunman fled through an alley running behind the property, according to officials.
In hopes of generating leads in the investigation, authorities released a composite sketch of the suspect.
The killer is described as a Latino man between 20 and 25 years old, about 6 feet tall, of medium build, Mendoza said. He had a light complexion, brown eyes, short black hair and a goatee, and he wore a black baseball cap with an unknown logo emblazoned on it.
The motive in the shooting remained a mystery, and detectives knew of no reason anyone would target Garcia or his friends, Mendoza said.
While it appeared the garage in which the victims were hanging out was targeted by the shooter, “We don’t believe the victims were the targets of the assault,” Mendoza said. Investigators had not ruled out the possibility of mistaken identity.
Garcia was scheduled to graduate high school in June, Mendoza said. He then planned to study photography at Pasadena City College.
The young man was a lifelong Monrovia resident.
“He enjoyed skateboarding, taking photos, attending church with family and he played soccer for his high school team,” the lieutenant said.
Garcia was often seen holding up two fingers in a “peace” sign, his mother, Guadalupe Castaneda said.
“It’s been so hard for me and my family. We miss Oscar,” she said. “He loved his family, loved his friends. He would always go to extra mile to help others. He didn’t deserve to end this way, or any other way.”
“My son was an excellent kid. He loved skateboarding. That was his passion. That’s how he met a lot of friends,” Castaneda said. “He touched everyone in the community.”
Castaneda and Mendoza both implored anyone with information on the case, or anyone who recognized the composite sketch of the suspect, to come forward.
“No family deserved to go through this,” Castaneda said. “Please, please, someone knows something… don’t be afraid. Love has to overcome all of this. No violence please.”
In addition to his mother, Garcia is survived by five siblings, nieces and a nephew.
Donations to benefit Garcia’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/oscar-garcia-funeral-memorial.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SUSPECT SKETCH/VICTIM PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department