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South L.A.-area shooting victim was not a gang member, investigators say

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide investigators say Frederick Andreas Castro, who was killed outside his home on April 2, was not a gang member. Earlier they had said he was.

"We do believe this is a gang-related shooting, and we do believe the man he was speaking to is a gang member, but we do not believe the victim was a gang member," said Sgt. Tim Cain. 

Castro, 23, was shot while he was standing by his car in the 1300 block of 59th Street in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone area of South Los Angeles.

Investigators say Castro returned home from work about 5:32 p.m. and was talking to a neighbor when a white four-door car pulled up. Someone inside the car fired two rounds, Lt. Dave Coleman said, and Castro was struck once. Friends drove Castro to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:38 p.m., according to coroner's records. 

Witnesses reported seeing two Latinos in the car that sped west on 59th Street and then north on Hooper Avenue. 

Castro's wife, Yesenia Villegas, said her husband grew up in the Florence district of South Los Angeles and was the youngest of seven children. She and Castro have three children, two boys and a girl.

"He had just started working at American Transportation Systems, but his goals in life were to be a part of an auto body collision [business] and to be a good dad to his kids that he loved so much," Villegas wrote in a text. 

"I remember when we got married he told me he always wanted a complete, big happy family of his own." 

Castro always talked about his family at work, said his manager, Miranda Suess of American Transportation Systems. "Supporting his family — his kids —was his number one thing," she said.

The company had hired Castro a couple months before he died, to clean and maintain its fleet of buses, Suess said. 

"He came to work every day like he was excited to be here. He was super reliable. ... He did everything above standard, and his co-workers loved him," Suess said. "He was a real team player, and we were looking forward to having him grow with us."

Suess said the company has since hired one of Castro's siblings, who has a similar work ethic. "We are definitely looking for more Fredericks around here," she said.

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

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