Murder charges were dropped Wednesday against a family friend suspected of killing a man who was allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old Boy Scout, authorities said.
The investigation is still ongoing. Police said the charges were dropped against Carmen Reyes, 53, because detectives need more time to gather evidence in the case.
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Reyes is the family friend of a 13-year-old boy who was attacked about 5 a.m. Saturday while helping his mother load the car for a camping trip. The assault happened near 182nd Street and Van Ness Avenue in Torrance.
Witnesses who did not want to be identified said Reyes heard the boy calling for help and intervened. Police said Reyes shot 19-year-old Sergio Wilms, who died at the scene.
Reyes’ attorney said it’s a case of self-defense, adding that it’s tragic for the victim’s family as well as for the boy and his family.
“We look at this as a case of self-defense, defense of others and justifiable homicide,” said Gary Eto, Reyes’ attorney.
Friends of Wilms said it’s out of character that he would attack someone. But they also said Wilms was a recreational drug user.
There is no indication Wilms was under the influence, said Torrance police, who expected toxicology results to be released in six weeks.
NBC4 learned that Wilms may have been coming from a party when the confrontation occurred.
Investigators are gathering more evidence to find out just what Wilms was doing in the area and what caused him to allegedly lash out.