Was murdered activist an informant?

EL MONTE She was a caring woman who reached out to at-risk youths, trying to steer them from gangs and drugs. But there are reports Elaine Garza was also a police informant. Now she is a victim of murder.

"She was a strong woman. She was a very strong woman. I loved her very much," said Victor Flores, the victim's husband. "I loved her very much. I wouldn't want that to happen to nobody's mom, because she left behind two beautiful children, my 5-year-old boy and my 9-year-old daughter."

The victim's husband broke down in tears as he told Eyewitness News about his wife. He came to a makeshift memorial set up for his wife and gently touched her picture.

Forty-one-year-old Elaine Garza was shot and killed in a parking lot. Some people say they heard at least five shots.

"She was giving. She was helpful. She used to give baskets for Thanksgiving to families that would need it, food baskets," said Martin Felix, the victim's son. "She would do the little that she could."

There are reports Garza was a police informant and that her family expected something like this would happen.

"Regardless of whatever people say, or whatever rumors might go out, she was a human being," said Terry Molina, a friend.

Garza's husband says his wife was not a police informant, but that she was a Good Samaritan who tried to help at-risk kids encouraging them not to use drugs and stay out of gangs.

"When people needed help with their children, and they would come to our house and ask us, 'Can you talk to my daughter?' 'Can you talk to my son?' They were always welcome to step up and talk to their kids, and try to guide them in the right direction," said Victor.

"To me, she was always nice," said Joe Amato, a friend. "Helping people, feeding the homeless."

Shortly after the shooting, several eyewitnesses saw the suspect as he ran away. Investigators arrested 38-year-old Peter Sanchez at a nearby motel. They say he had a handgun of the same caliber used in the murder.

"If it is that guy, then I hope he gets what he has coming," said Victor. "And if it's somebody else, I hope they find them."

Police said there could be others involved and urge anyone with information to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-0550.


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