City Offers Reward for Conviction of the Killer of a Student

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Los Angeles City Council has offered a $50,000 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of a 17-year-old Venice High School student.

Police say Augustine Contreras, a junior at Venice High, was shot dead on June 5th when he intervened in a fight outside the school between his younger brother and a group of young men.

The teen's 16-year-old brother, Alejo Contreras, said two young men approached and told him to hand over the diamond-studded cross around his neck. One of them grabbed for the chain and yelled out the name of a local gang, Alejo Contreras said. In the scuffle, Agustin Contreras was shot in the upper torso.

The suspects fled on foot after the incident. The shooter was wearing a gray sweat shirt, jeans and a red hat when he was last seen.

Police say they do not think the suspects were students, but say they may have gang ties.

Worried about retaliatory attacks, police and community leaders called for calm and organized community meetings. Some activists said the killing could cause an escalation in tensions as Hispanic gangs seek payback. Police said the assailants were black, while the victim was Hispanic.

"There are all-black gangs, there are Latino gangs that have black gang members," said Oscar de la Torre, founder of the Pico Youth and Family Center, a facility for at-risk youths. "Still, that doesn't keep them from retaliating. It's gang related, it's race related. There's a lot of layers to it."

In the early 1990s, several killings in the Oakwood neighborhood were connected to violence between black and Hispanic gangs.

"The kids that feed into this school come from a community that has active gangs, and the schools are a reflection of this," school Officer Jose Santome said.

If you have any information about the case, please call the LAPD at (310) 428-6313.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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