Friends, family and "brothers in arms" Monday visited the Sylmar location where a young Army vet was fatally shot just before Veterans Day, as detectives continued probing for a break in the case.
Francisco "Franky" Garcia survived 18 months in Afghanistan, only to be killed near Sylmar High School before 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the police account.
Garcia was confronted by a man who got out of a dark-colored SUV, threw a beer bottle on the ground, and then shot the 21-year-old with a handgun he retrieved from another vehicle, Los Angeles Police Department detectives said.
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Police have not identified a suspect in the case.
"Somehow this was a simmering dispute related to rival groups that may be involved, like a tagger crew," said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division.
Detectives have not determined how Garcia was linked to the tagging crew, if at all, Vernon said, but Garcia was targeted by the shooter.
What led to the shooting matters little to Garcia's friends, neighbors, relatives and military family.
"It's kind of hard for somebody to go over there and fight and come back and get this thing happen to him," said Luis Rivera, a Vietnam vet.
Rivera, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart San Fernando valley Chapter 83, said Garcia would receive a full honor guard at his burial.
Veterans don't receive the respect they used to he said Monday, the day before Veterans Day.
"They think they're just anybody," Rivera said, "but when they need help they call the veterans to go fight."
Michael, an 85-year-old veteran who didn't give his last name, choked up as he described the pain he feels for his "brother in arms."
"To come back to a place where he stood to defend and have his life taken away from him -- words can't explain the pain," he said, offering a salute.
The friends said Garcia returned from Afghanistan four months ago after being honorably discharged because of an injury. He planned on joining the California Highway Patrol and looked forward to becoming a father one day, friends said.
"He was a good guy, man. I love him. He was always funny,” said Albert Rosario, a friend of Garcia’s.