After a man died in a deputy-involved shooting in East L.A. early Sunday morning, his family said they are thinking about hiring an attorney in a search for answers about his death.
The man — identified by family members as 21-year-old Anthony Vargas — was struck by gunfire shortly after 2 a.m. in a housing complex located on the corner of North Mednik Avenue and Floral Drive, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities were responding to a call about a man allegedly being robbed at gunpoint just before the deputy-involved shooting occurred. Two suspects in the reported robbery remain at large, authorities said.
While officials have not said whether Vargas was a robbery suspect, his family has said he was not involved in any sort of crime.
“My son’s name — Anthony Daniel Vargas — will not be in vain,” his mother, Lisa, said. “And he will not go down as this criminal out on the streets.”
When law enforcement arrived to the scene of the alleged robbery, the victim directed them to a group of people at the apartment complex who started running away in different directions, authorities said.
Another sheriff’s unit was driving in the complex and came across a man in a courtyard who took off running and fell, Lt. Derrick Alfred told KTLA.
Deputies attempted to detain him, which is when a fight between them ensued, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Vargas was shot and pronounced dead, authorities said. His family said he had been attending a birthday party.
“For all you mothers out there, just hold your babies every time you leave the house,” Lisa Vargas said through tears.
“My mom was the last one to see him and he kissed her and told her he loved her and he’d be back,” she said.
A semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene, officials stated. But the exact circumstances of the deadly shooting remain unclear.
The Vargas family said an attorney may be hired and they plan to try getting ahold of surveillance footage at the housing complex. That could be the key to figuring out what exactly happened in the moments just before Vargas’ death.
Earlier, Lisa Vargas was still waiting to find out if her son was the person killed. She said she received a phone call around 2 a.m. regarding a person, possibly her son, on the floor.
“I think the hard part is not knowing,” she said at the time. “I have faith, I believe in God, and I have my whole church and a lot of the community praying for us right now. But once again, if it’s not my child , it’s going to be someone else’s child.”
Andre Vargas, while waiting to learn whether his twin brother was the man killed, said his sibling was apparently visiting friends at the complex the previous night. He grew concerned after not hearing from Anthony for some time.
“We tried calling him, we tried calling friends that he was with possibly, but haven’t heard anything from him so far,” he said.
Later, after learning of her son’s death, Lisa Vargas said she was committed to looking deeper into the deadly shooting.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to find justice for my son,” she said.
Anthony Vargas worked in a church warehouse and led bible study groups, his family said. He had a passion for fishing and his mother described him as “a loving boy.”
Authorities said they were continuing to search for two suspects. They added that the two suspects from the robbery were described as Hispanic men.
One deputy sustained minor injuries and received medical treatment, according to the news release. Earlier, officials said no deputies had been injured.
The incident remained under investigation.
Anyone with information about this case was asked to contact the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.