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Two Arrested After Drive-By Shooting

May 4, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Two teen-agers were in custody Tuesday for allegedly shooting and killing a tax assessor as he walked home from work, while police searched for the killers of two other people shot in unrelated incidents.

A 15-year-old suspected gang member and a 17-year-old boy were arrested Monday, minutes after they allegedly fired on the man from a speeding car, police said.

Two more teens were arrested Tuesday in another shooting, in which two 15- year-olds were wounded.

In Pomona, a motorist escaped gunfire by driving his car down railroad tracks until it got stuck, then fleeing with a passenger as a freight train smashed into the vehicle.

No one was hurt in the Monday morning chase, which police said began as Michael Ortega, 23, and Juan Eugene Lopez, 20, were driving near Cherrieville Park, a frequent site of street gang violence.

Their path was blocked by two autos that stopped in front of them, said Officer Douglas Buettner. A third car stopped behind them.

Ortega and Lopez heard a gunshot, apparently fired from the park, and drove onto the tracks, Buettner said. Several other shots were fired at them by the other cars’ occupants, who chased them down the tracks on foot before returning to their cars.

The two men continued driving until their car stuck where the tracks merged with another set. They were trying to free the vehicle when the train approached, forcing them to abandon the car, the officer reported.

Police said gang members also were believed involved in the fatal drive-by shooting Monday night of Clemente Gallegos, 18. Officer Daniel Ruelas said Gallegos was confronted by several suspected gang members as he stood on the sidewalk.

In a third shooting, a city waste inspector was killed Monday near Dodger Stadium. Awni Rayyis, 58, was killed as he was standing in front of the city’s General Services Standards Laboratory.

Rayyis provided a description of the killer’s vehicle before he died at County-USC Medical Center.

In yet another shooting, in suburban Sylmar, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, police arrested two teen-agers following a drive-by shooting Tuesday afternoon that wounded two ninth-grade boys near a junior high school.

The victims were both 15 years old, said Lt. Fred Nixon, a police spokesman, and the two youths who were being held for investigation of attempted murder were 16 and 13 years old.

It appears the gunmen were seeking out their victims, Nixon said, adding, ″We have witness accounts that gang slogans were yelled.″

Henry Hunter, a 35-year-old Los Angeles County assessor clerk was shot as he walked home about 5 p.m. Monday and died a short time later at California Medical Center, authorities said.

A police helicopter happened to be in the area and pinpointed the direction of the speeding getaway vehicle, allowing officers in patrol cars to stop the car and arrest the youths, Detective Richard Hoffman said.

The suspects were not identified because of their ages. The 15-year-old acknowledged gang membership, but the 17-year-old had not claimed or denied any gang affiliation, the detective said.

″Everyday at the same time (Hunter) walked down the street, on his way home with his briefcase and a newspaper,″ Hoffman said.

″This could have been anybody in metropolitan L.A.,″ Hoffman said. ″This fellow was just walking down the street minding his own business and these young fellows just drive by and shoot him. ... It was just a random thing. The poor guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time.″

Community leaders also asked street gang members to observe a weeklong truce in honor of Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, the May 5 Mexican holiday.

″I have a message for gang members: Your mothers don’t want to lose you,″ said Steve Valdivia, executive director of Community Youth Gang Services.

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