A story for every victim

Carlos Francisco Mendez, 45

Carlos Francisco Mendez, a 45-year-old Latino, was killed by police officers Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the 500 block of West 4th Street in Azusa, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

Mendez, a street maintenance worker for the city of Garden Grove, walked out of his home with an assault rifle about 2:25 p.m. and began shooting at whomever he saw, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina. 

He first shot at passing cars, hitting a woman who was driving a van, Corina said. The woman was struck in the head, he said, and her van crashed moments later. 

His next victim was his next-door neighbor, Francis William Varney, 77, who was shot when he walked out of his house, apparently to investigate the commotion, Corina said.  

Mendez then shot a woman who was walking down the street. 

Police officers arrived a short time later responding to reports about shots fired, Corina said. As they tried to help the injured, Mendez allegedly began shooting at them from the front porch of his home, Corina said. 

Mendez fired at least 20 rounds at police, The Times reported. Six officers — five from Azusa and one from Irwindale — returned fire until Mendez stopped shooting, Corina said. 

Varney was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:40 p.m., according to coroner’s records.

The two women, ages 65 and 59, were airlifted to a hospital and are in critical condition, Corina said. None of the police officers were injured in the shootout. 

Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene, but not until 5:18 p.m., according to coroner's records. 

Officers could see the feet of a motionless person half in the front door after the shoot out, Corina said, but they didn’t know if there was more than one shooter, or if the person lying in the entryway was an earlier victim. 

Investigators used a robot from the sheriff’s department to move onto the porch area and verify that Mendez was dead. 

No one else was in the house, Corina said. Family members told investigators that they had left home the night before after Mendez began “bingeing” on cocaine and acting strangely. 

Mendez collected guns and had at least four weapons, including handguns, a shotgun and a rifle, Corina said. He and his wife and children had lived in the house for about five months, The Times reported. 

Garden Grove spokeswoman Ana Pulido said Mendez had worked for the city for 10 years,the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported. Puildo said he called in sick the Friday before the shooting, and asked for a week off the following Monday. 

“He was always courteous,” told the newspaper. “He was very quiet, but he never gave any indication there was anything wrong.”

Corina said Mendez had served in the Navy when he younger. 

The sheriff’s department is investigating the shootings, but Corina said 10 agencies were at the scene that day, providing assistance. Nearby schools, streets and a polling place were locked down while investigators tried to figure out the nature of the shooting and whether other gunmen were involved. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Report at (323) 890-5500. 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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