A 14-year-old boy was in custody Tuesday, facing a murder charge, in the gang-related shooting death of a college student outside a Halloween party in Wilmington last month.
Alex Giovani Zepeda, 19, of Wilmington was gunned down about 1:45 a.m. Oct. 28 in the 1100 block of West Cruces Street. The Cal State Fullerton sophomore was shot multiple times and died in a friend’s arms, according to Los Angeles police Detective David Cortez.
The teenage suspect — a Wilmington resident and reputed gang member whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile — was arrested last Thursday and is being held at the Los Padrinos juvenile detention facility in Downey, the LAPD reported.
Zepeda attended a Halloween party and had just walked across the street to join a few friends when he was hit by gunfire and collapsed on the sidewalk.
“Although this was not a gang party, there were a few gang members from rival Eastside and Westside Wilmas gangs,” according to an LAPD statement. “The shooting stems from decades of rivalry between these two gangs and the boundaries which divide them.”
Zepeda, a criminal justice major who was minoring in political science, interned in 2014 for Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who took part in a news conference to discuss the arrest.
“I’ll never forget his amazing smile … (Alex) enthused about trying to do right in this community,” Buscaino said. “It was disgusting to know that a teenager killed another teen. I am saddened and deeply angered by the fact that our teens are killing each other over which side of the streets they live on.”
Buscaino commented on the suspect’s age.
“The fact that the suspect is 14 years old is a sad fact,” he said. “I mean, my son is 14 years old. I can’t imagine my son, who is 14 years old, pick up a handgun, walk up to an individual, and start firing rounds.”
Cortez said: “At the end of the day, the 14-year-old kid who put the gun in his hand and pulled the trigger is responsible for this … He made a decision to intentionally kill the 19-year-old victim.”
–City News Service