A story for every victim

Carmelo Pizarro Jr., 22

Carmelo Pizarro Jr. (2018-07-19)

Carmelo Pizarro Jr., a 22-year-old Latino, was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies on Thursday, July 19, in the 7100 block of Pico Vista Road in Pico Rivera, according to Lt. Joe Mendoza. 

Pizarro was shot after crashing his car and running from deputies, Mendoza said, and authorities say he was initially armed but threw down his gun during a foot chase. 

Deputies suspected Pizarro was driving drunk when they first spotted his Mitsubishi Eclipse at Washington and Passons boulevards at 1:37 a.m., Mendoza said. They tried to pull him over but Pizarro sped away, he said, and deputies pursued. Blocks away, Pizarro crashed into a light post and parked vehicle at Eglise Avenue and Bert Street. 

Pizarro got out of his car, Mendoza said, “and fled on foot, armed with a handgun.”

Mendoza said he couldn’t go into specifics about how investigators know Pizarro had a handgun, saying it was based on "witness accounts." Mendoza said he couldn’t specify whether the witness or witnesses were someone other than law enforcement. 

The pursuing deputies put out a call for assistance to help find Pizarro, Mendoza said, “and we had a huge response from numerous stations in the county. Numerous deputies came to assist in containment of the area, which was almost a mile long. It was a big area to contain.”

“At a certain point, somebody saw him with a handgun, but I’m not saying at what point,” he said. “We’re still interviewing witnesses and I’m trying not to feed witnesses information they don’t have.”

One deputy shot at Pizarro about a block from the crash site, when Pizarro ran south of Eglise Avenue and then east on Schooling Road, Mendoza said. It’s unclear whether Pizarro was hit, Mendoza said. 

Pizarro then ran through backyards for half a mile, Mendoza said, and investigators believe he dropped a gun in that time. 

“His weapon was recovered in an area between the first DIS (deputy-involved shooting) and the second,” Mendoza said. “It was in one of the backyards he ran through, and someone saw him drop it.”

When Pizarro had nearly reached his home, two deputies shot him, at 1:56 a.m., according to a sheriff's news release. Investigators won't say why the deputies fired.  

“We’re not speaking specifically to anything that happened at that point because we’re still doing interviews,” Mendoza said. 

Findings of the sheriff's investigation will be presented to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to determine whether any charges should be filed in the fatal shooting, Mendoza said. The district attorney's office will make those findings public when the investigation is complete, he said. Such investigations typically take many months and sometimes a year or more to complete. 

Maria Reza, Pizarro’s mother, told reporters at the scene that she heard helicopters and came outside to see what was happening, only to witness the final moments of her son’s life, NBC 4 and CSBLA reported. 

“I just yelled at the sheriff, ‘That’s my son. That’s my son.’ because they were drawing their guns at him,” she said. “I didn’t think they were going to shoot."

She and her husband, Carmelo Pizarro Sr., were controlled but tearful in television footage from outside the police barricades. Reza told reporters that her son was the father of a 5-year-old girl. 

"My son was not armed," Reza told KTLA5. "They cornered him at the neighbors' house and I heard six shots.... After they shot him they dragged him out, they turned him over and they handcuffed him and they let him bleed to death."

Pizarro was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after he was shot, Mendoza said. Investigators have put a security hold on the case, as they sometimes do in the case of officer-involved shootings, so the cause of death and other coroner information is not available to the public until the investigation is complete. Mendoza said the autopsy is still pending. 

Pizarro Sr. told reporters that his son recently had been devastated by the death of his best friend, Manuel Jacobo, 22, who was shot and killed outside their home just a few weeks earlier, NBC4 reported. In the video footage, memorial candles from Jacobo’s vigil were visible just a few steps from where Pizarro died. 

Jacobo was killed Thursday, June 28, about 9:30 p.m., according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. Mendoza said investigators don’t have much information about that shooting. Residents reported hearing gunfire and finding Jacobo unconscious lying in the street. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later, with multiple gunshot wounds, according to coroner's records. 

Anyone with information about the shootings should call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers (800) 222-8477. 

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

Share a memory or thought about Carmelo Pizarro Jr.

Before you post, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Remember, all posts are approved by a Times staffer. Profanity and personal attacks will not be approved.