Francisco Aguirre Jr., 31 [Updated]
Francisco Aguirre Jr., a 31-year-old Latino, was killed in a hit-and-run at 1519 N. Gaffey St. in San Pedro about 1:15 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.
According to Det. Frank Weber, Aguirre and his friends were returning from a birthday celebration and had made a final stop at a 7-Eleven. Inside the store, a man got into a verbal confrontation with one of Aguirre's friends.
As Aguirre and his friends were returning to their limo bus, the man — who had been waiting in the parking lot — reversed his van and plowed through the group, injuring two people and dragging Aguirre from the lot and into the street. He died instantly.
Homicide detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department's Harbor Division arrested Samuel Pinto, 36, on suspicion of homicide later that evening. On Jan. 23, the L.A. County district attorney's office filed murder charges against Pinto. His arraignment was postponed until Jan. 30.
Aguirre was the fourth child of seven brothers. Those who were close to Aguirre knew him as "Pancho." To his mother, he was "Panchito." For years Aguirre had been working odd jobs, including construction and car repair.
Aguirre made a change a few years ago after he began thinking about settling down and buying a house. He started assisting his mother and grandmother with routine tasks like paying bills and grocery shopping, according to his brother, Robert Ortiz. He also attended more family functions.
He started to save money and looked for a steady job so that he could marry his girlfriend, whom he had been with for eight years, Ortiz said. "He really turned a corner ... he was becoming a man," he added with a teary voice. "It was a beautiful thing to see."
Aguirre's family is seeking donations for funeral services.
[Update Jan. 4, 2011: Almost a year and a half after Aguirre was killed, Samuel Pinto pleaded no contest to one count of vehicular manslaughter and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (not a firearm) causing great bodily injury.
He was sentenced to eight years, four months in prison with 681 days credit time.
Probation was denied on all charges.]
— Ruben Vives and Sarah Ardalani