A 33-year-old youth minister was gunned down early Monday in Pomona after dropping off a teenage church member at home, authorities said.
Daniel Diaz, of West Covina, was fatally shot when a gunman walked up and opened fire into a car where Diaz and two others were sitting, a police sergeant said.
"He made me believe in God," Gabriel Garcia said of his youth minister.
The 16-year-old was dropped off at home moments before the deadly shooting.
"I said goodbye to Daniel and Eddie, the driver, and when I came inside, I heard four gunshots," Garcia said.
Diaz's parents are pastors with the New Beginning Community Ministries in Baldwin Park. Diaz worked at the church as a youth pastor, and was remembered Monday as a man who dedicated his life to God.
"To me, he was like a big brother, just like the dad I never had," Garcia said.
Diaz’s church runs a youth home, where six boys live. Those residents recalled on Monday a selfless man.
"He'd always be there for me. Anytime I needed help, I'd just call him and he'd be there right away, be there for me, talk to me. Anything I needed, he was always there for me no matter what," said Raymond Yniquez, who lives at the youth home.
The 33-year-old youth minister was gunned down about 12:45 a.m. near the intersection of Park and Mayfair avenues, Pomona police Sgt. Patrick O'Malley said.
There were originally four people in the car. The two remaining witnesses in the vehicle told Pomona police they had just dropped off a person near that intersection when the gunman walked up and opened fire inside the car without warning, O'Malley said.
Diaz was struck by gunfire. The other passengers in the car started to drive him to a hospital when they hailed a police car near the intersection of Third and Thomas streets, O'Malley said.
That officer called paramedics and Diaz was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead about 1:10 a.m., O'Malley said.
A description of the gunman was not immediately available. A motive for the shooting was unknown.
"This is a time to uplift our Pastors David and Donna Diaz with all of our prayers, love and support as they just lost their son Daniel," New Beginning Community Ministries said on its Facebook page.
Those who wish to donate to the family are asked to call the church's women's home at 626-960-7172. A collection is being taken at that home located at 3426 Robinette Ave., Baldwin Park, CA 91706.
Anyone with information about the deadly shooting is urged to call the Pomona Police Department.
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