2 Charged in Gardena Slaying of Honor Roll Student Mistaken for Rival Gang Member

A 20-year-old man and 17-year-old were arrested and charged after allegedly shooting another teen to death in Gardena, mistakenly believing he was a rival gang member, authorities said Tuesday.

The charges come more than three months after David Amaro-Poblano, an honor student at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, collapsed in his mother's arms before he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The 17-year-old was struck by gunfire as he walked toward a home in the 1500 block of 146th Street, where his mother was delivering birthday party invitations the evening of Feb. 22, according to witnesses and police.

Marcos Medina, one of the suspects in the Feb. 22, 2019, killing of David Amaro-Poblano, is seen in a photo released by Gardena police on June 4, 2019. Amaro-Poblano is seen on the right in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses.

Marcos Medina, one of the suspects in the Feb. 22, 2019, killing of David Amaro-Poblano, is seen in a photo released by Gardena police on June 4, 2019. Amaro-Poblano is seen on the right in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses.

Marcos Medina and a 17-year-old suspect were arrested May 30 after a series of search warrants were served in the city of Los Angeles, according to Gardena police. The identity of the teen suspect is not being released due to his age.

Medina was charged with one count of murder — which includes two special allegations of using a handgun and taking part in a criminal street gang — and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Police said the underage suspect was also charged with homicide.

Detectives believe the pair thought Amaro-Poblano was a rival gang member and targeted him by mistake. Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast described Amaro-Poblano as a "totally innocent person" with no gang ties.

Prendergast said tips from the public and other investigative leads led to the arrests but declined to give details about evidence linking the suspects to the shooting.

Several rounds were fired at Amaro-Poblano, striking him at least once near his heart, police have said. The wounded victim returned to his vehicle, where his girlfriend was waiting and his mother soon found him.

He died of a gunshot wound through the chest, according to county coroner's officials.

In the days following, authorities searched for suspects and a light-colored sedan believed to have fled the scene, offering a $15,000 reward for information in the case.

Loved ones, meanwhile, grieved the death of Amaro-Poblano as they pleaded for his killers to come forward.

The high school senior was on his school's varsity soccer team and had been accepted into multiple universities, friends and family said. He had plans to attend Cal State Dominguez Hills this coming fall.

One of Amaro-Poblano's teachers, Tiffany McGinnis, praised him at a news conference held by police days after his death.

She described him as a "truly good person" who cared for his siblings and earned good grades in school, saying he "didn't deserve to have his life taken from himself at a such a young age or from his family."

A GoFundMe page to raise money for the teen's funeral expenses was set up at the time.

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