A 17-year-old honor roll student who was shot and killed in Gardena last week was helping his mother deliver invitations for his little sister's upcoming birthday party to his aunt’s house, police said Monday.
David Amaro-Poblano was waiting in a car with his girlfriend for his mother to return from dropping off the invitations at the home in the 1400 block of 146th Street at about 7 p.m. Friday.
When Amaro-Poblano felt his mother was taking too long, he got out of the car and began walking up to the home, Gardena Police Department Lt. Chris Cuff said.
That’s when someone shot Amaro-Poblano in the upper body before driving off in a light-colored sedan, Cuff said.
Delia Poblano said her son was always by her side. She ran outside after hearing gunshots.
"He said, 'Be careful mama,'" Delia Poblano told KTLA.
She said her son collapsed and died in her arms.
Police initially indicated Amaro-Poblano was the victim of a drive-by shooting, but later updates were unclear as to whether the gunman was inside or outside of the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
Several people reported hearing the gunshots, but no one was able to give a detailed description of the gunman or the vehicle, Cuff said.
Police said several rounds were fired, with the teenager being fatally stuck near his heart.
Amaro-Poblano returned wounded to his vehicle, where his girlfriend was still waiting, and collapsed.
He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No one else was injured in the shooting.
The light-colored vehicle police are looking for left the scene headed westbound on 146th Street with an unknown number of people inside.
Investigators have located some surveillance video but are still searching for additional leads in the case.
Amaro-Poblano was a senior at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale. He was an honor roll student, on the school's varsity soccer team and was in the process of joining the Gardena Police Explorer Program. The teenager had been accepted to multiple universities and planned to attend Cal State Dominguez Hills in the fall.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Gardena Police Chief Thomas Kang said detectives were still trying to uncover why someone would want to kill the teenage boy.
"We need the community's help to help find the killer who was involved, the suspects who were involved in this senseless killing."
Teacher Tiffany McGinnis also spoke at the news conference, describing Amaro-Poblano as a "truly inspiring individual who exuded positivity."
"He was a good brother. He always took care of his sister and always looked out for his brother," McGinnis said. "He was a truly good human being and he didn't deserve to have his life taken from himself at a such a young age or from his family."
Kang described Gardena is a safe, family-oriented community and said detectives will be looking "at all avenues" to solve Amaro-Poblano's murder.
Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to call Detective Patrick Goodpaster at 310-217-9653 or Detective Mike Nguyen at 310-217-9638.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Amaro-Poblano’s funeral expenses.