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Public's help needed in shooting case

May 14, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — As police here continue to try to determine a motive for the killing of a 15-year-old girl a week ago, officers are trying to bring another killer to justice — the one who mortally wounded a 16-year-old last summer.

Jesse Garcia was shot in the head at a gathering of friends and family in the 1000 block of B St. He died about two months later.

Investigators think they know of a likely gunman, but Lt. John Myers said this morning investigators' hands are tied because there is insufficient evidence to go after that suspect.

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"We have someone we are looking at seriously. We just don't have enough information to pull it together," Myers said.

The shooting occurred Sept. 16. According to police, Jesse had gone with another family member to a get-together at a residence on B Street.

People were in the front yard when a person or persons walked up and opened fire.

Myers said he isn't sure if the shooting was random or if the gunman targeted Jesse. Myers did say the shooting is thought to be gang-related, but added Jesse was not involved in a gang.

"He was not a rival gang member," Myers said.

Another person at the get-together was grazed in the shooting.

Investigators think there were witnesses to the shooting and have the information needed to solve the murder.

Brawley police with the help of Mexicali authorities raided a residence across the border two months ago looking for leads.

In addition, police were in Ontario this month to interview potential suspects who may have been involved in some manner or who may be withholding information.

Brawley police Detective Greg Heath said those withholding information could be found liable as accessories if they are trying to protect a suspect.

Despite such efforts, Myers said, "No information has come to light at this time."

He added little will change "until we get someone who wants to talk."

Myers said, "My personal belief is the information we need is out there."

When asked what he thinks is stopping people from coming forward, Myers said it could be fear, peer pressure or that people do not want to get involved. Heath agreed, but again urged those with information to come forward.

The mother of Jesse, Dinah Rodriguez, also is asking people to provide information.

Rodriguez said it has been nearly a year since the shooting and no one has come forward with the information police need. She said she thinks people are afraid of being known as a "rat" or afraid of retaliation.

Still, she said, "I feel they should put themselves in my shoes. That was an innocent life that got taken away."

Rodriguez said her son's birthday would have been in April and the fact that Mother's Day was last weekend was tough for her.

In addition, she said last week's killing of 15-year-old Jovita Becerra, brought back the memory of her son's murder.

"It's not fair. These kids are killed for no reason at all," she said. "I understand what this other lady (Jovita's mother) is going through."

Heath asked anyone with information about the case contact him at 344-2111. He said callers can remain anonymous.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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