A story for every victim

Joe Morales, 22

Joe Morales, a 22-year-old Latino, was shot and killed Thursday, Oct. 22, at the intersection of West Lexington Avenue and South Park Avenue in Pomona, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.  

Investigators found Morales alone behind the wheel of a silver Nissan, in the middle of the intersection, Pomona Police Lt. Eddie Vazquez said. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:32 p.m., according to coroner’s records. 

Morales’ shooting was part of a car-to-car shooting just outside Garey High School and Lexington Elementary School at 2:45 p.m., shortly before school was dismissed, Vazquez said. No students were involved in the shooting, he said, but the schools were locked down briefly as a precaution.

“It was an awful placement for any kind of crime, let alone a shooting,” Vazquez said. “If  it had happened at 2:55 or 3 p.m. (when school let out), we could be talking about a completely different outcome.”

Morales was a former Pomona resident who had moved to Rialto, Vazquez said. He was a documented gang member, Vazquez said, and investigators believe the shooting was gang-related. 

Witnesses told investigators that both cars had multiple passengers who were shooting at each other. When police arrived, however, Morales was alone and there were no weapons in his car, Vazquez said. 

The second vehicle, a stolen black BMW, was found abandoned two blocks away, in the middle of Rio Rancho Road, just before the intersection with South Garey Avenue. The BMW had been stolen three days earlier from a Pomona resident, Vazquez said. It was found with bullet holes in the windshield and blood in the interior. 

“No weapons were recovered in either car,” Vazquez said, “which leads us to believe there was more than one occupant in each car because those weapons didn’t disappear on their own.”

Shortly after the shooting, a man went to a Montclair hospital with a gunshot wound in his upper body, Vazquez said. When he was told the police were coming to question him, the man allegedly bolted from the hospital and carjacked a vehicle across the street, Vazquez said. He was arrested later that evening at another Montclair hospital, on suspicion of carjacking. 

Pomona investigators are looking at whether the man was involved in the Pomona shooting, Vazquez said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Pomona Police Department detective bureau at (909) 620-2151. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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