A reputed gang member has been charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of two young men at a Venice-area park last week.
Michael Anthony Mariscal, 19, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles on two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count each of street terrorism and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Mariscal is accused of killing Salvador Diaz, Jr., 18, and Alan Mateo, 21. They were sitting in the bleachers watching a softball game when Mariscal allegedly opened fire, said police.
"I don't know where he's from," said Captain Gary Walters of the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division. "He's a documented gang member from a gang outside this community. But aside from that, I can't speak to his background."
Police won't say, if they even know, what prompted the brazen shooting. At a community meeting Wednesday night, one activist came to defend victim Diaz, who had recently graduated from Venice High School. Such is the nature of gang crime, victims often come under a kind of suspicion.
"I wanted to speak for the Salvador Diaz family," said Laddie Williams. "It's a bad rap out there on their son. I've been getting to know the family. They have five children. And they are there for them."
"The park has been relatively free of trouble in the past," said Capt. Walters. "This shooting is very unusual for this location. We are working diligently to restore the park to its original peacefulness."