Los Angeles

3 Arrested in Shooting Death of Former East LA Football Player

Three men have been arrested in connection with the 2013 shooting death of a former East LA football player, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Friday.

Gabriel Soto, 21, was gunned down May 25, 2013 inside an open garage in the 600 block of South McDonnell Avenue in East Los Angeles, officials said.

Investigators said Soto had returned to East LA from college and was visiting his former classmates when a car pulled up and someone began shooting. Another man was injured in the shooting.

Jonathon Gonzalez, 28, Roque Solis, 30, and Anthony Gabriel, 25, were arrested on suspicion of murder, LASD said.

"My brother is still not back, but it's justice," said Soto's sister, Vanessa Cornejo.

A $20,000 reward was offered last month for information leading to an arrest and conviction as detectives and family members pleaded for the public's help in cracking the case.

Officials said the call that led to the arrests was made anonymously. Homicide investigators said Soto was likely an unintended target in what may have been a gang-related shooting. They said Soto was not a gang member.
"We kept putting his story out and showing what kind of person Gabriel was, I think they just realized they had to do the right thing," Cornejo said.

Soto attended Lincoln University in Missouri on a football scholarship after graduating from Garfield High School in 2009, deputies said.

"I'm happy to hear there's an arrest," said Garfield High School Assistant Principal Juan Carlo Marquez. "Arresting people might bring closure but it doesn't bring Gabriel back."

Soto is survived by a 6-year-old son and his family. He had dreams of being an engineer.

"My mom prays for him every day, every day she goes to the cemetery and she prays and she cries and I think those prayers were answers for her," Cornejo said.

The family plans to set up a scholarship in Soto's honor for children who can't afford to go to college.

The lead detective in the case said he carried a yearbook picture of Soto until he was able to give it back to his family when the case was solved.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Lolita Lopez and Willian Avila contributed to this report.

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