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Stray bullet kills Army veteran, a dad of 2, as he does yard work, California cops say

Police car lights (Wikimedia/Matty Ring)

Four men have been arrested after an Army veteran, a father of two, was killed by a stray bullet while doing yard work outside his California home, police say.

Taylor Byron Woods, 20, of Bellflower; Tyrell Deshawn Louden, 20, of Indio; Jordan Omarion Stokes,18, of Long Beach; and Semaj Lamar Obrien, 21, of Long Beach were arrested in relation to the fatal shooting of Mario Morales-Moreno, 51, the Long Beach Police Department said in an April 10 news release.

Police said they recovered multiple firearms during the arrests, adding that evidence was also found while executing a search warrant.

Each of the arrested men is facing a murder charge and being held on $2 million bail, according to police.

Before he was shot, Morales-Moreno was “doing yard work at his home,” according to a neighbor’s Facebook post.

As he was working on Thursday, April 4, police said suspects “fired numerous rounds” toward Morales-Moreno and another man.

Morales-Moreno was pronounced dead on scene, while the other man was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition as of April 5, according to police.

Police said they do not believe Morales-Moreno was the intended target of the shooting.

The investigation is ongoing, but police said they believe the shooting was gang related.

“Gang-related violence has no place in any part of our city, and this callous criminal act has forever changed the lives of Mr. Moreno’s family,” Police Chief Wally Hebeish said in the release.

Morales-Moreno is survived by his wife and two children, according to a GoFundMe set up by a neighbor for the family.

“As neighbors we are heartbroken and his family is still in shock,” the GoFundMe says. “Mario had so many hopes and dreams for his future. He was taken from us too soon.”

Moreno-Morales’s wife, Elsa Morales, told NBC Los Angeles that he served in the U.S. Army for 23 years and “just retired from military service.”

“He was in Iraq twice,” his wife told the outlet. “[He was] a very responsible person. All the neighbors here loved him very much.”

Fernanda Sandoval, Morales-Moreno’s daughter, told KCAL News that others always spoke of her father’s kindness.

“He would always wave,” Sandoval told the outlet. “A simple wave hello to everyone meant so much, and everyone has that story of him waving.”


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