Friends remembers victims of shooting rampage in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mourners left armloads of flowers Friday and lit tall candles to remember four victims who were killed in a shooting rampage across Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

Friends, neighbors and co-workers were in disbelief about the attacks in which Gerry Dean Zaragoza is accused of killing his father, brother and two other people, and wounding his mother.

Police remained tight-lipped about a motive behind the violence. The employer of Zaragoza’s father said he had confided that his son had a drug problem.

Zaragoza, 26, remained in jail pending arraignment, which had not been scheduled. It was not clear whether Zaragoza had an attorney.

Police would not say if authorities had been called to the family home previously.

Zaragoza is accused of killing his 56-year-old father, Carlos Zaragoza and his 33-year-old brother, Carlos Pierre Zaragoza, and wounding his mother, Blanca Zaragoza at the family’s apartment in Canoga Park on Thursday.

Police said Gerry Zaragoza then fatally shot an acquaintance, Azucena Lepe, 45, and wounded a man, who was in critical condition, at a gas station in North Hollywood.

Police said Zaragoza also attempted to rob a man outside a bank in Canoga Park and then fatally shot a still-unidentified bus passenger in Van Nuys before his arrest after a 12-hour manhunt.

Michael Ramia, Carlos Zaragoza’s boss and owner of American Carpet Cleaning in Northridge, was raising money for the family’s funeral expenses.

Ramia and Marisa Schetz, who works in commercial sales at the company, dropped off a bouquet of white and yellow flowers at the Zaragoza home.

“I can’t believe it,” Ramia said, looking at a growing memorial of flowers and candles outside the door.

They described Carlos Zaragoza as an upbeat employee who trained other technicians and would chastise them if they complained. The company made a framed photo collage of him, signed by employees, and put it behind a burning candle.

Ramia said he would dedicate a carpet cleaning truck to his employee.

“I just feel like knocking on the door and going, “Carlos, Carlitos!'” he said.

They said Carlos Zaragoza often expressed frustration at his son’s drug problem and wanted him to work at the company but he never showed up. They didn’t know any family issues had escalated.

“Carlos never told me he was scared,” Ramia said.

Susie Torres, 54, of Sherman Oaks, said she met Blanca Zaragoza more than 20 years ago because Torres’ father and Blanca worked at the same restaurant.

Torres said Blanca met Carlos, then a customer, there. Blanca was from El Salvador and Carlos was from Mexico, she said.

At the gas station, a small memorial of candles stood before a photo of Lepe. Employees declined to comment.


Associated Press writer John Antczak contributed to this report.

Categories: California News