OCEANSIDE, Calif. – A community mourned Thursday the loss of two teenagers shot dead in Oceanside, as investigators attempted to figure out if the killings are gang related.
A makeshift memorial grew Thursday as family and friends of the victims dropped off balloons and flowers at Libby Lake Park.
“I heard eight rounds of shots, then I could hear them afterwards yelling for help,” said one neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified.
Oceanside homicide detectives said they found four teenagers shot, two of them were taken to local hospitals, the other two were found lifeless just before 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Residents identified the murdered teens as 13-year-old Melanie Virgen and Edgar Rios, 17, a sophomore at El Camino High School.
“Edgar was a good kid as far as I know,” a classmate said.
A man, who walked up to the memorial and didn’t give his name, told Fox 5 he is an active gang member and that neither of the victims in Wednesday’s shooting were involved in gangs.
Investigators continued their search for the three gunmen who fled in a gray or silver 2005 or 2006 Toyota Tundra or Toyota Tacoma extended-cab pickup truck with tinted windows, Lt. Aaron Doyle said.
The motive for the attack was under investigation. There was no “solid evidence” that it was gang-related, the lieutenant said.
Thursday’s memorial for the two victims is just steps away from another spot with balloons and candles placed to remember the lives of two teenagers who were shot and killed in 2011.
Late on the night of May 3, 2011, Sandra Salgado, 14, and her boyfriend, 16-year-old Fernando Solano, were slain on a hillside at the park near the San Luis Rey River.
Three documented gang members await trial on double-murder charges for the killings. The 20-year-old alleged gunman faces a possible death sentence if convicted, and the others are in line for potential terms of life in prison.
A fourth defendant pleaded guilty late last year to being an accessory after the fact in the case.
The accused shooter’s girlfriend testified during a court hearing that the slayings were an act of revenge for an attack on one of her boyfriend’s gang cohorts days earlier.
Anyone with information regarding Wednesday night’s shooting has been asked to call the Oceanside Police Department.