A story for every victim

Alejandro Flores, 17

Alejandro Flores, a 17-year-old Latino, died Friday, July 17, 2009, after being shot in the 12500 block of East Alondra Boulevard in Norwalk, according to Orange County coroner’s records.

Alejandro and his two brothers — all of whom were soccer referees from Bellflower — were traveling to pick up their assignments for upcoming games, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Richard Lopez. The three were headed to the Stater Bros. shopping center on East Alondra shortly before 7 p.m. on July 16.

As they neared the grocery complex, a Toyota sedan pulled alongside the brothers, according to court records. Two Latinos inside the sedan made eye contact with Alejandro’s older brother, who was driving, and raised their chins in acknowledgment, records show.

When Alejandro’s brother pulled into the parking lot at 12545 E. Alondra Blvd., the Toyota maneuvered sideways behind him and blocked the car, Lopez said. 

A man exited with his hand in his pocket and approached the right side of the brothers’ vehicle, a Mitsubishi Eclipse, where Alejandro was seated in back. At the same time, the Toyota’s driver pointed a gun through his open window at the Eclipse, according to court records.

The oldest Flores yelled at his brothers to duck and then threw his car into reverse, striking the Toyota and running over some bushes, records show. 

The brothers said they counted seven gunshots while trying to escape, according to court documents. Alejandro’s oldest brother testified that he felt the gunshots hit his car, and Alejandro’s twin brother said he felt a blast of heat by his face. 

The shooters fled, Lopez said, and Alejandro’s brother drove to another part of the parking lot, about 100 feet away. There, he called 911 to report the shooting and get help for Alejandro, the only one who had been struck by gunfire, Lopez said. 

Alejandro was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead the following day at 8:45 a.m. after suffering gunshot wounds to his head and leg, according to coroner’s records.

Authorities say the shooters were reported gang members in Norwalk. None of the Flores brothers was armed or involved in gangs, Lopez said.

Alejandro’s oldest brother recently had purchased the Mitsubishi, Lopez said, and investigators think the car’s previous owner belonged to a rival gang. Investigators think the shooters recognized the car, Lopez said, and assumed the occupants were rival gang members.

The Flores brothers had no idea about the car’s history, Lopez said. “These kids were good kids, going to school, with aspirations to go to college.”

Two men ultimately were convicted in the attack: Jorge Humberto Carlos, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, and Heraclio Meza, who was 20 at the time. 

Carlos was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle and one count each of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, said Sarah Ardalani, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He was sentenced to life in prison on June 20, 2012.

Meza, who was tried separately, was convicted in Alejandro’s death as well as the fatal shooting of another man, Rayshawn Stewart, on July 17, 2009, the day after the attack on the Flores brothers.

In addition to the two murders, Meza was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle, Ardalani said. He was sentenced to death on Feb. 2, 2017.

In addition, Meza’s mother, Mariam Minassian Meza, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact to Alejandro’s murder. She pleaded no contest on Aug. 28, 2009, and was sentenced to five years of probation with 45 days in jail.

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