Craigslist Killing: Family "Devastated" by Slaying of Father in Front of Son

A teen who witnessed the killing of his father was released from the hospital after being grazed by a bullet

By Willian Avila
|  Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013  |  Updated 8:31 AM PDT
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Police are looking for two men who may have used a Craigslist ad for a cell phone to ambush and kill a father in front of his son in South Los Angeles. Detectives warned to be extremely cautious when making online deals with strangers. Adrian Arambulo reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2013.

Adrian Arambulo

Police are looking for two men who may have used a Craigslist ad for a cell phone to ambush and kill a father in front of his son in South Los Angeles. Detectives warned to be extremely cautious when making online deals with strangers. Adrian Arambulo reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2013.

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A man who was gunned down in front of his son while responding to a Craigslist ad in South Los Angeles was mourned Monday by the woman who raised him as a "hard-working, great father" who was taken too soon.

Lorena Gonzales said the family was trying to cope with the slaying of 41-year-old Rene Balbuena, who was shot by two men as he sat in his car with his 15-year-old son Saturday night.

The father and son were trying to buy a cellphone when the two men attempted to rob them, police said.

"The family is devastated because we don't know anything," Gonzales told NBC4 in Spanish. "We're waiting for them to give us the body."

Gonzales takes comfort in the fact that her grandson survived. He was released from the hospital after being treated for a bullet graze wound.

"He begins to cry when he tries to speak about his father," Gonzales said.

Investigators said Balbuena and his son arrived to 92nd Street and Gramercy Place about 7 p.m. When they were turned away from a home after inquiring about the cellphone, they returned to their car, investigators said.

That's when they were approached by the men.

"It seems they were lured there in guise of getting that cellphone," said Detective Chris Barling of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Balbuena, of South Gate, was a husband and a father of two. In addition to his son, he is survived by a 20-year-old daughter.

Gonzales said she is not the biological mother of Balbuena, but raised him as her own.

"Even though he was not my blood, he was special to me," Gonzales said. "He's been responsible since he was a child. He had many friends. He loved sports."

The slaying happened just hours after the LAPD announced that there had not been a homicide in the city in 10 days and 10 nights – the longest streak since 2010.

NBC4 reporter Toni Guinyard contributed to this report.

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