Police Probe Teen Slaying

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Monday, January 16, 2012 - 9:08am

LA police suspect soccer player's murder was a targeted hit.

The parents of a Winnetka, California teenager who was shot and killed returned to their home Thursday night in tears after being interviewed by police.

They were met by dozens of relatives and friends who placed candles and flowers at a growing memorial on the front lawn where he died.

Authorities are searching for the people who gunned down Francisco “Ponchito” Rodriguez Wednesday night on the front lawn of his home.

“He was my little cousin. He didn't deserve it. None of us deserve to feel this way,” says Nancy Ortega.

Rodriguez was a senior at El Camino Real High School and an avid soccer player.

His coach, Ian Kogan, said Rodriguez recently spent 10 days in Hawaii with the team.

He described him as a good person and a passionate player.

“He loved to play the game. He cared a lot about the guys. He cared a lot about the school,” says Kogan.

On Thursday, teammates could barely put into words their shock and grief.

“I really looked up to him. He was like a mentor. It’s so sad,” says Spencer Smith.

A visibly shaken principal spoke with reporters Thursday morning as students made their way to class, “Just a really good student. Just a high school senior living the life,” says Dave Fehte.

On Wednesday night, just after 6 p.m., someone took that life from Rodriguez.

Relatives describe a bizarre and chaotic scene, a knock at the door and a teenaged girl waiting outside.

“I didn’t see her face to face but I know she had red hair,” says Jessica Rodriguez, the victim’s sister.

Rodriguez told his mother he was stepping outside for a few seconds.

Then, Jessica says three shots rang out.

“He was facing down, and he wasn’t moving,” says Rodriguez.

“We don’t feel, by any means, that this was a random shooting,” said LAPD Detective David Peteque. “We feel the victim was targeted.”

Grief counselors were at the school early Thursday.

 

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