A story for every victim

Cynthia Ambriz, 19

Cynthia Ambriz, a 19-year-old Latina, was fatally shot Saturday, June 11, East Carson Street and South Evonda Avenue in Carson, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

Ambriz was walking with a female friend about 12:10 a.m. when a man ran up behind them and opened fire, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Jauch.

“We don’t know if he targeted the victim, but our victim was the only one who was shot,” Jauch said. 

Ambriz, who lived in Wilmington, was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:25 a.m., according to coroner’s records. 

The suspect, Alexander Espino, a 19-year-old from Compton, was seen running to a nearby residence, where he was arrested a short time later on suspicion of murder, Jauch said. He is being held without bail. 

About 4 p.m. on Saturday, friends and family gathered near the bus stop where Ambriz was killed.

The vigil was made up of about 30 candles, bottles of Miller High Life and balloons under the bench near the stop. Her friends sat in a semi-circle around a smeared blood stain. Several hours earlier, someone had used the blood to write her nickname, “Cindy.” 

Ambriz’s older sister, Miriam, 23, stood off to the side and clutched her own beer bottle, wiping away tears. After regaining her composure, Miriam poured out half her beer near the vigil, letting the froth circle in the grass near her sister’s blood.

"Right now it's not that hard to be here,” Miriam Ambriz said, “but I can still remember seeing her dead body at this very spot.” 

Just after midnight on Saturday, several friends called and told her Cynthia had been shot. Miriam said she drove to the scene from their house in Wilmington, about five miles away, but when she arrived, she almost didn’t recognize her sister because the life was gone from her eyes. 

“I stand here and can almost still see her, you know, as she was.” Miriam said.

Throughout the afternoon a stream of neighbors walked by the vigil talking about the shooting, but Miriam and the friends said very little. When asked if she knew the victim, Miriam met their faces with tired, red eyes and shook her head. She did not say that the victim was her sister.

Mere feet from the shooting, several gang tags were spray-painted on a brick wall. Passersby speculated aloud about whether a gang might be responsible for the shooting, but Miriam kept her back to the wall and ignored their words. 

She didn’t have her sister anymore, Miriam said, and that’s all that mattered. 

Jauch refused to comment on the relationship between Cynthia Ambriz and Espino, the alleged gunman, or the suspected motive.

“We need to get the case filed,” he said. “It’s too early to get those details out.”

Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau 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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