SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — A U.S. Army veteran who returned from Afghanistan over the summer only to be killed on a Southland street not far from his home early Sunday morning was remembered by friends and neighbors Sunday evening.
Francisco Garcia, 21, was killed on Dronfield Avenue as he and a group of friends left a party around 2 a.m.
"I seen him grow up," Claudia Ponce, who knew Garcia since he was a year old, told CBS2/KCAL9's Greg Mills. "Frankie was Frankie."
Ponce was heading Sunday afternoon to the apartment Garcia shared with his family to try to comfort his parents.
"Oh, they're really bad," she said.
Evidence was marked by Los Angeles Police Department detectives on the sidewalk outside the apartment complex where Garcia was shot to death. A resident who didn't want his identity known shared what he witnessed: "The first set of shots woke me. And I was awake to hear the second shots. There was a pause between the shots."
Like Garcia, the man is a veteran.
"The irony is Veterans Day is two days away. His day and my day, and they took it away," he said.
Another man had just parked his car on Dronfield around 1:45 a.m. and was walking home when he heard the commotion: "Heard about five or six gunshots, which is not uncommon in this area. Saw a caravan of two vehicles speeding away."
Police said one of the vehicles is a dark-colored SUV. They believe Garcia was targeted as he stood outside on the sidewalk.
"They knew each other in some sort of fashion because it was a dispute going on," LAPD Detective Juan Santa said. "I don't know how well they knew each other."
About a dozen friends were at the family's apartment in Sylmar on Sunday, there for Garcia's parents and his four sisters as they try to deal with his death.
"He was like my big brother," friend Stephanie Ibarra said. "He would take care of me. We'd go out to eat, and he was so loving and caring."
Garcia's family said he was hoping to become a California Highway Patrol officer, and had begun the application process.
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