SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — A 21-year-old Army veteran who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan was fatally shot early Sunday morning while attending a party with friends.
According to the LAPD, Francisco Garcia attended a party with several friends on Saturday evening at a home located on Dronfield Street.
Around 2:00 a.m. Sunday, those who attended the party moved up the street to a different location.
Officers explained Garcia was standing on the sidewalk, North of Astoria Street, when two cars stopped near Sylmar High School.
A Hispanic man reportedly exited a dark SUV and proceeded to smash a beer bottle on the ground while yelling at Garcia across the street.
He then walked to the second vehicle, described as a white Toyota or Honda, retrieved a handgun from a second suspect and started shooting at Garcia.
Authorities said Garcia was shot and died at the scene. No other injuries were reported.
"It appears Francisco was the target of the attack," said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division. "Apparently, a simmering dispute had boiled over during the night, and this suspect came looking for Francisco. Figuring out the dispute should lead us to the shooter."
Authorities initially reported that Garcia's girlfriend hosted the party in celebration of his return from Afghanistan. Police later revealed that no evidence showed the party was a celebration in his honor.
KCAL9's Joy Benedict spoke with LAPD Detective Juan Santa, who said Garcia had been discharged from Afghanistan about two weeks ago.
However, family members explained he had returned home about three to four months ago.
Friends gathered at the crime scene Sunday morning to make sense of what happened over night.
They told Benedict that Garcia recently was accepted into the California Highway Patrol Academy, a longtime dream of his to enter law enforcement.
Detectives said they do not believe the suspects inside of the SUV or white car had attended the party earlier, and are believed to have come from another location.
Witnesses were interviewed at the scene and several bullet casings were collected.
The investigation is ongoing as the motive of the shooting is unclear.
No further description of the suspects have been released at this time; however, officers believe the men knew each other prior to the shooting.
Family and friends plan to gather at 6:00 p.m. for a vigil at Sylmar High School to honor and remember Garcia.
Anyone with information regarding this crime is urged to contact police at (818) 838-9948.
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