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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 1:00 pm | Fog/Mist 55º

 
 
 
 

Fatal Shooting in Lompoc Followed Sunday Gunfire That Injured Another Man

New Police Chief Joe Mariani speaks about 'a 17-year-old girl full of promise whose life was ended way too soon' as investigation into girl's death continues

The shooting of a known gang member and killing of a 17-year-old bystander in Lompoc on Monday night apparently followed another bout of gang-related violence investigated by police a day earlier.

On Tuesday, Lompoc police were mostly mum about the investigation into the shooting at 7:40 p.m. Monday in the alley in the 600 block of West Ocean and Walnut avenues.

An adult male with known ties to a criminal street gang was walking in the alley when a vehicle approached, police Sgt. Kevin Martin said. 

Those inside the vehicle began shooting toward the victim, striking him in the leg. However, he was still able to flee south between apartment buildings. 

A 17-year-old girl who was babysitting younger siblings and not associated with the known gang member was outside when the bullets were fired, Martin said. A bullet struck the girl, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The adult male victim, believed to be the target of this shooting, was taken to a hospital outside of the city, Martin said. 

Investigators believe the shooting was related to gang activity.

The name of the girl was not released by police on Tuesday, but she was on the mind of new Chief Joe Mariani, who spoke out Tuesday night after his public swearing-in ceremony during the Lompoc City Council meeting.

Mariani officially took over the job late last week.

The shooting fatally wounded “a 17-year-old girl full of promise whose life was ended way too soon,” Mariani told the crowd filling the council chambers. 

“I commit myself to doing the best to making this the safest city possible,” the new chief said. “Today it rained and rightfully so, because many tears have been shed in the last 24 hours — including mine.

“I grieve and I pray for that family. No one else should have to suffer that kind of loss,” he added.

On Sunday, police investigated another shooting of a gang member, who was completely uncooperative when officers arrived, Martin said. 

The condition of that victim wasn’t known.

Investigators were assessing whether the shootings Monday night were retaliation for the incident on Sunday, Martin said.

Police officers were working to identify suspects involved in the shootings.

Anyone with information about the incidents can contact Detective Sgt. Agustin Arias at the Police Department at 805.736.2341 or can provide information via the department’s mobile application.

Lompoc has been plagued by an increase in violence, many involving suspected gang members, since last summer as Lompoc police have dealt with a staffing shortage.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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