Police Investigating If ‘Tagger Dispute’ Led to Shooting Death of Army Veteran in Sylmar

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As the search continued Monday for the gunman who killed a 21-year-old Army veteran over the weekend in Sylmar, police officials said they had begun investigating if the shooting was the result of a dispute between “tagger crews.”

Francisco Garcia, a 21-year-old Army veteran, posted this photo on his Facebook. He was shot and killed at a party in Sylmar on Nov. 9, 2014.

Francisco Garcia, a 21-year-old Army veteran, posted this photo on his Facebook. He was shot and killed at a party in Sylmar on Nov. 9, 2014.

Francisco Garcia had recently returned from Afghanistan and was at a homecoming party held at his girlfriend’s home when he was shot and killed early Sunday morning, Los Angeles Police Department officials stated in a news release at the time.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon later said that although the girlfriend said the party was held in Garcia’s honor, other attendees said it was not.

Garcia had returned from Afghanistan about four months ago, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Garcia and other partygoers were outside the Sylmar home when a Hispanic man exited a dark SUV, smashed a beer bottle on the ground, yelled at the veteran, then retrieved a handgun from a white car parked behind the SUV.

The man then shot Garcia multiple times. He died at the scene.

"It's horrible," said family friend Mariana Rodriguez. "It's just heartbreaking."

Many candles and flowers, as well as a U.S. flag, were set up in memorial for Garcia.

Although officials had not determined if the veteran was part of a "tagger crew," they were investigating if he had died as a result of a dispute among differing groups.

“It appears Francisco was the target of the attack,” Vernon said Sunday.  “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.”

Investigators did not believe the occupants of the SUV or car had attended the party.

Anyone with information was asked to call Detective Efren Gutierrez with LAPD’s Mission Homicide Unit at 818- 838-9948.  Anonymous tips could be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-8477, or by texting 274637. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Online tips could be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report. 

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