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Man is Shot to Death in San Fernando PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 04:31

Second Violent Death in Last Two Months in the City

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

After six years without a violent death, San Fernando recorded its second murder of the year, with both of these incidents occurring in the last two months.

John Paul Villalta, 28, was killed Sunday night, Nov. 11, in the back parking lot of an apartment building along the 300 block of Hagar Street. Authorities said an argument between the victim and another man led to Villalta being shot several times near a dumpster. He managed to walk about 20 feet until he fell between two parked cars.

"It seems he was being chased and he fell here, between the cars," said a resident of the area who only identified herself as Claudia. She said she heard the shots and came out to see what had happened.

"I came out running and, because of the clothes, I knew it was John Paul. But they (the police) didn't let me get close," the witness said.

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

By early Monday morning, Nov. 12, a few residents of the apartment building had gathered outside, talking about the incident. A couple of men who knew Villalta came outside later carrying flowers and candles. They lighted the candle and made the sign of the cross before leaving them at the spot where he died.

Villalta's sister, who showed up at the site a few minutes later, was overcome with grief and cried uncontrollably for several minutes while hugging apartment manager Joaquin Garcia. She then sat down on the pavement next to the candles and flowers before leaving a few minutes later.

Photos of Villalta, a teddy bear and loving messages for him appeared at the site the next day. A book, titled "We'll Always Be Friends," was also placed at the makeshift altar.

"This is pretty bad," said Garcia, as he stood with other neighbors in the parking lot. "We're very surprised because this had never happened here." Garcia said he knew Villalta, whom he described as a respectful and friendly man who had lived at the place before, but had moved out some time ago. But Villalta still visited frequently, Garcia said, often hanging out to talk and drink with some of the residents there.

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Garcia said he heard several shots around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, and "when I came out, he was already there [on the ground] covered with a white sheet."

By then, police had showed up to investigate the case. Garcia said they took three people to the station for questioning. However, by press time, authorities had not made any arrests in the killing. Police only described the suspected shooter as a Latino man in his 40s, who fled the scene in a newer model Ford Focus or Fiesta vehicle. On Monday morning, San Fernando Police Department detectives were observed going into nearby buildings, presumably to check videos from cameras that could have captured the incident.

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Villalta is survived by his wife and three young daughters, Garcia said. This is the second murder in the past two months in San Fernando.

Authorities continue to investigate the fatal stabbing of 27- year-old Diego Martinez in the parking lot of the 7 Mares Restaurant in San Fernando on Oct. 6.

Martinez was stabbed with a knife during an argument with another man in the rear parking lot of the restaurant, located in the 1100 block of First Street.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 04:35