Friday marks the seventh anniversary of the killing of 22-year-old Robert Garcia, who was gunned down for no apparent reason as he finished up his shift at a Norwalk tow yard. The case remains unsolved.
Garcia’s family plans to go out Saturday into the neighborhood where the June 28, 2012, shooting occurred to pass out fliers seeking information on the killing. They also plan to canvass the Whittier neighborhood where Garcia grew up seeking information, as they have done every year since his death.
“We all get together. We go out, we pass out fliers, we listen to what people have to say in the community,” the victim’s mother, Anna Salazar, said.
“We try to keep that out there that we’re still looking. Maybe we can finally get some closure,” she said.
Three suspects, including one who appeared to be a young child, can be seen in surveillance camera footage that captured portions of the crime. And homicide detectives are hoping that unusual fact may help jog someone’s memory and solve the case.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a $10,000 reward last year for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers. The reward is set to expire at the end of July if not renewed.
Garcia had parked his tow truck and was walking back to Vernola’s Towing Services, 13514 Norwalk Blvd., when three people began chasing him east along Front Street, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said. He was shot as he reached the business’ front door.
Surveillance video released by investigators shows Garcia pounding on the front door of Vernola’s Tow after being mortally wounded. He ultimately collapsed. Three figures can be seen running away and were last spotted heading south on Norwalk Boulevard.
Two of the suspects were described as men, sheriff’s officials said. But the third appeared to be a small child, “who by his stature and gait appears to be a boy of about 10 to 12 years old,” Detective Ralph Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“So anyone who knows of two young adult Hispanic males who were hanging out with a young boy back in 2012 in the Norwalk-Whittier area is urged to call us,” the detective said.
No motive for the killing was known, officials said. Nothing was taken from the victim, and possibilities included everything from a robbery-gone-wrong to a a case of mistaken identity. Family members have said they didn’t know of any reason someone would want to hurt Garcia.
“At the time of his death, Robert was the provider for his budding family and left behind two small children who will never get to know their father, and their mother to care for them on her own,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. The victim was “known as a dedicated and hardworking young man.”
Garcia had just started working for the tow company several weeks before the shooting, Salazar said. He left behind a young daughter and son who was born just two months before the killing.
He was working hard to take care of his family, his mother said, adding that his world revolved around his children.
“He wanted to give them everything,” Salazar said. “His son never had a chance to know him.”
In the wake of the killing, the children moved away with their mother, she said.
“I don’t get to see my grandkids. It’s kind of messed us all up,” Salazar said. When someone kills a person, the damage extends far beyond the victim, she said. “They strike the whole family.”
The mother said she refuses to give up on finding justice for Robert Garcia.
“I feel like fighting for my son is all that I have left for him,” she said.
Anyone with information was urged to contact Detective Ralph Hernandez at the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
VIDEO: Robert Garcia was shot and killed as the ended his shift at “Vernola’s Tow” in the city of #Norwalk.
If you have any information, please contact Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. pic.twitter.com/B3hSFO20eh
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) June 28, 2018