A story for every victim

Brian Lee Gomez, 28

Brian Lee Gomez, a 28-year-old Latino, was shot and killed Monday, Sept 28, in the 1600 block of Neil Armstrong Street in Montebello, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records. 

Gomez, who lived in Long Beach, went to Montebello to sell a gold necklace to a man he had met through the website OfferUp, according to Montebello Police Lt. Andy Vuncannon. 

Security cameras in the area show that Gomez met the man about 6:30 p.m., Vuncannon said. The man pulled out an assault rifle, chased Gomez past other people on the street and fired at Gomez's feet in what investigators believe was a robbery, Vuncannon said.  

As Gomez reached into his pocket where he was holding the necklace, the gunman shot him and ran away, leaving the necklace behind, Vuncannon said. 

Gomez was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:54 p.m., according to coroner's records. 

"Why did he shoot him and not take the necklace? That's the $1-million question," Vuncannon said. "I wish we had an answer to that, but the bottom line is that an innocent man was murdered, and taken from his wife and family."

Police closed off the area for several hours while they unsuccessfully searched for the gunman that night. With help from the website, investigators tracked down a suspect, identified by police as Sean Matthew Garcia, a 25-year-old Latino, the next day, according to the department news release. 

During a search of Garcia's home, investigators said they found evidence that he was involved in the robbery of an assault rifle in August. Police said that the rifle is similar to the weapon used to kill Gomez.

Vuncannon said the victim of that robbery contacted Garcia through OfferUp as well. When the two met, Garcia is believed to have used a gun to rob the man of his assault rifle, Vuncannon said. The robbery went unreported until investigators began investigating Gomez's shooting, he said.

Garcia was charged Oct. 1 with murder with the special circumstance that he committed the crime during an attempted robbery and that he used a rifle to cause bodily harm, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Garcia was also charged with robbery stemming from the theft of the assault rifle, prosecutors said.

Garcia is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 22 in  Department 30 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He is being held in Los Angeles County Jail on $2-million bail. 

The Montebello Police Department is still investigating the case and looking for additional victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the department's Investigations Bureau at 323-887-1313, ext. 262. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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