Two men whom relatives described as lifelong friends died in a drive-by shooting that also left a third man injured in the South Los Angeles area Wednesday.
The gunfire was reported just after 7 p.m. on the 1100 block of East 68th Street in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone neighborhood, L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Osburn said.
The caller told officials a vehicle drove up and the passenger pulled out a handgun. An argument ensued, then shots rang out, said Lt. Derrick Alfred.
Deputies who responded found two men next to a vehicle in front of a house on the north side of the street, while the third victim was three houses east, Alfred said.
The third man had been loading his daughter into the backseat of a pickup when he heard shots ring out and covered her with his body, according to the lieutenant.
That man was taken to the hospital with superficial injuries and released later Wednesday night, Alfred said.
One of the victims from the other car died at the scene, and the other died after being taken to the hospital.
Distraught family members who arrived at the scene told KTLA the man who died there was Jose Flores. He and the second man killed, Alfredo Carrera, grew up together six houses apart on the street where they were shot.
The men in their mid-20s were parking an SUV in Carrera’s driveway when the gunfire broke out.
“It appears that they had driven up and were saying goodbye outside the car to each other when the car drove up (and) some words were exchanged,” Rubenstein said. “Somebody from inside the suspect vehicle fired multiple rounds, striking both the men.”
No weapon has been found on the deceased victims, and it doesn’t appear they were specifically targeted by the killers, according to Rubenstein.
“If we thought it was more like a targeted assassination or a hit, they would probably just have driven up and opened fire,” he said.
Flores was a physics doctoral student at UC Irvine and had his sights set on a job at NASA, a family member told KTLA.
“He was one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met,” said a former sister-in-law at the scene who asked not to be named.
Carrera, meanwhile, was about to become a first-time father with his girlfriend, his aunt Michelle Garcia said.
The baby shower was set for Saturday, Garcia added.
Family said Carrera had been shot at least once in his back.
Investigators have yet to release information on the suspects and declined to release a description of the vehicle involved.
The relatives say they have no idea who would want to target the men.