A family is searching for answers after their loved one was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol officers earlier this month in Fullerton following an illegal street racing event.
On July 3, the CHP said 19-year-old Pedro Villanueva had taken part in an illegal street racing event in Santa Fe Springs. As uniformed officers closed in, Villanueva took off. Undercover officers in an unmarked vehicle followed, sometimes reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour, before Villanueva got stuck in a dead end at Pritchard Street in Fullerton.
The CHP says when officers drew their weapons, Villanueva made an attempt to run them down. Officers opened fire.
"He was a good boy," said Villanueva's mother, Hortencia Sainz, in Spanish. "Nobody deserves what happened to him."
His passenger, 18-year-old Francisco Orozco, survived his own gunshot wounds. He submitted a statement for the family attorney to read during a news conference Tuesday, claiming the officers never identified themselves.
"We were followed from Santa Fe Swap Meet by a black car and chased," attorney Paul Kiesel read. "They never once used a siren, a loud speaker or provided any warning whatsoever before they started shooting."
The family contends Villanueva didn't know they were being chased by officers. His brother says they never had any run-ins with the law.
Local news from across Southern California
"We never had bad feeling for anybody, we're nice kids," Armando Villanueva said. "We work at the restaurant, we try to treat people how they treat us."
Customers at the family's restaurant in Chatsworth have offered their support, too. On Yelp, customers have left condolences amid their praise for the restaurant. One of them wrote Villanueva made lunchtime a special atmosphere.
Villanueva's brother says the red pick-up truck he was in that night is the same he used working for the family's restaurant.
"You only wish for your dreams to come true, you strive for something better, you only wish for your family to better and united. And that's what we strived for," the brother said.
Fullerton police are investigating what led up to the shooting. The CHP and district attorney are investigating whether the shooting was justified.