A 19-year-old Cal State Northridge student was killed when two suspects fleeing police in an SUV ran a red light and crashed into his vehicle early Thursday morning, authorities said.
The chase began around 12:30 a.m. near White Oak Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard where officers attempted to stop a Toyota RAV4 carrying two men who were wanted for an armed robbery in another part of the San Fernando Valley on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
The driver sped away and, after a brief chase, ran a red light at Roscoe and Lindley Avenue, police said. The RAV4 slammed into the side of a dark green Honda Civic, killing the driver.
Police identified the victim as Erick Barbosa-Guardado, 19, of Reseda. He was a sophomore studying civil engineering at Cal State Northridge, the university said.
He also worked at a TJ Maxx store in Tarzana and was on his way home when he was struck by the suspects.
After the crash, both suspects in the RAV4 ran away from the scene, police said. Officers set up a perimeter and took the driver into custody, but the other suspect got away.
At a news briefing Thursday morning, LAPD tried to explain why officers initiated the pursuit.
“Part of our job is to try to apprehend (suspects) and make communities safer, and this is part of that,” Lt. Letisia Ruiz said. “We do try to balance the risk versus the gain. In this instance, it is unfortunate that suspects failed to … essentially … stop.”
The victim’s loved ones are devastated and mourning the loss of the 19-year-old.
“I feel so mad. So mad because it’s not right this happened with my nephew,” Erick’s aunt, Socorro Barbosa, told KTLA. “Please do something. He was a really good boy. I think they [police] have to be very careful with people around.”
The driver of the RAV4 will likely be booked on a murder charge, police said.
Police said they found a loaded rifle in the SUV.
A small memorial has been set up near the roadside where Barbosa-Guardado lost his life.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the victim’s place of work.