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Family ID’s Teen Killed in Willowbrook ‘Walk-Up Shooting’; Gunman Sought

A family member on Thursday identified a 15-year-old girl who was fatally shot in a Willowbrook apartment complex — a case that was being investigated by homicide detectives.

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This photo of Yoana Espinosa Cuervo was provided by her family. She was fatally shot April 23, 2014, in Willowbrook.

The shooting occurred around 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 11900 block of South Wilmington Avenue (map), according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

A witness told deputies that the victim was standing in the stairwell of an apartment complex when the gunman approached her and opened fire, the release stated.

The victim was shot once in the upper torso, according to the release. She was rushed to a local hospital where she later died.

She was identified midday Thursday as Yoana Espinosa Cuervo by her aunt, Suri Cuervo.

Suri Cuervo and other family members flew into Los Angeles from San Francisco, where Yoana had been living until just a few months ago. Her mother arrived from Compton, where she lives.

Candles and flowers marked the site where Yoana was shot. She died in an ambulance, Suri Cuervo said.

Yoana had been a regular visitor at the apartment complex, family members said, but it was not clear who she was visiting there.

The incident was described as a “walk-up shooting,” and investigators were not sure whether it was random or if the girl knew the man who shot her, Sgt. Ovalle with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said.

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Flowers and candles were placed at the site where Yoana Espinosa Cuervo was fatally shot. (Credit: KTLA)

Authorities were searching for the gunman, who fled the scene following the shooting. He was described only as a male Hispanic in his 20s, according to the news release.

The shooting was the fourth homicide in Willowbrook this year, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Homicide Report.

Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Anonymous tips can also be left by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, texting the letters “TIPLA” plus a tip to 274637, or through the website lacrimestoppers.org.

KTLA’s Alberto Mendez and Christina Pascucci contributed to this report.