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Arraignment: Young men disrupt courtroom during appearance of accused killer of Carlos Rodriguez, 17

Alfredo Escobedo, a 21-year-old Latino, was arraigned Tuesday in Downey Municipal Court on charges of murder and attempted murder in the death of Carlos Rodriguez, a 17-year-old Latino, who was shot and killed Saturday. Feb. 22 while driving in South Gate.

As attorneys prepared for their upcoming cases before Commissioner Burt Barnett, a man who appeared to be in his late teens to early twenties, also Latino, began to laugh in the gallery.

The bailiff told the young man to stop. Instead, he laughed again. At that point the bailiff asked him to leave and he stood up, asking, “Why do I have to leave?”

The bailiff told him he had been asked to stop laughing and needed to leave the courtroom. The young man then exited the court.

Several minutes later, he returned and sat back down with a group of young men. The bailiff saw him and again told him to leave, crossing the bar separating the observers from officers of the court to escort him into the hallway.

About 11:15 a.m., Escobedo was brought to the court room handcuffed and wearing blue jail attire. Escobedo sat in a chair next to the defense desk and occasionally peered over his shoulder to view the audience in the gallery. The defense attorney asked the commissioner to set the next hearing for a date in April and the commissioner agreed.

As Escobedo was escorted back to the court holding cell, two young men sitting in the corner of the gallery began to throw what appeared to be gang signs. Another bailiff confronted the two and asked them to leave. The majority of the attendees in the gallery left the courtroom with them.

Authorities allege that Escobedo was the gunman who began firing at Rodriguez and three other men from a car that pulled up alongside them shortly after 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 at California Avenue and Duane Way in South Gate.

Det. Phil Guzman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau previously told The Times that Rodriguez, who was driving when he was shot, crashed his car. At that point, one of his passengers took over the car and drove Rodriguez to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood where he died that afternoon. A passenger in Rodriguez’s car was wounded in the shooting.

South Gate police arrested Escobedo on Feb. 24 in connection with the attack. Prosecutors charged him with one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of assault with a firearm.

-- Los Angeles Times Metro staff

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