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Family, friends mourn youngest victim in Southeast L.A. quadruple shooting

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Loved ones are feeling shock, grief, and anger in Southeast Los Angeles where 14-year-old Javier Pedraza Jr. was shot and killed on Sunday.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Pedraza was one of four victims who were killed after being targeted at random by shooters.

Pedraza was gunned down outside Ellen Ochoa Learning Center on Sunday evening. A family friend says the young victim simply went out for some fresh air when he was killed.

“I have nightmares thinking about what happened to him,” Karla Lopez told KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff. “As a parent, my heart goes out to his mom and his father.”

Authorities arrested two people in connection with the murders — 42-year-old Gary Garcia Jr. and 20-year-old Timberland Wayne McKneely — each facing four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Both men are believed to be gang members.

Garcia and McKneely face life in prison without the possibility of parole if they are convicted.

A third person was also allegedly involved with the murders. Detectives arrested a juvenile in Compton on Thursday. Murder charges for the third suspect will be presented to the District Attorney for consideration.

LASD said they were able to pinpoint the suspects after a red Honda was seen at each of the homicides.

Authorities said the shootings took place in various parts of L.A., with victims being found in Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, and the Florence area, all of which are within a roughly five-mile radius.

Joseph Trevizu is an advocate and community leader who believes more should have been done by authorities to locate the suspects before the four victims wound up dead.

L.A. County communities on edge after night of violence claims 4 lives in 3 hours
A map depicting the location and timeline of four deadly shootings within three hours of each other in southeast Los Angeles County. (KTLA)

“There were four people killed in this spree,” Trevizu said. “And if the shot spotter would have caught that first person, by the time they were at maybe the third person, maybe they would have been stopped. That’s a systematic failure.”

Those in Cudahy — where Pedraza was shot — are hopeful that the suspects will face serious jail time if convicted.

“For them to take a life senselessly, they deserve life,” Lopez said.

Authorities have only identified one other victim other than Pedraza. They say 24-year-old Kevin Parada, a husband and father, was killed in front of Martha Escuita Primary Center in Bell.

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