Teen arrested in fatal Escondido shooting

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. – A 16-year-old gang member is behind bars in connection with a shooting in Escondido last month that left a 19-year-old man dead.

The suspect, whose name was withheld because of his age, allegedly opened fire on Leonel Garcia Jr. as he walked home from school near West 15th Avenue and Orange Street around 1 p.m. on Sept. 29, according to Escondido police and the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

Garcia was struck once in his abdomen and was taken to Palomar Hospital in grave condition, authorities said. He underwent multiple surgeries, but died from his injuries.

No description of the shooter was released, but police said they were seeking a small to mid-size gray pickup truck with a black ladder rack that had been seen leaving the area.

Escondido Police Department Robbery-Homicide and Gang Units launched an investigation into the shooting, which ultimately led them to the teenager, Escondido police Lt. Eric Skaja said.

The youth was arrested and later booked into juvenile hall for suspicion of murder and committing a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Escondido Police at (760) 839-4782 or (760) 743-8477.

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