Family of tourist killed by suspected sniper while hiking near Highland Park asking public for help

The shooting involved one shot fired from a rifle by a suspect hiding in the bushes sitting about 75 to 100 feet away, police say.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three months after a senseless murder, the family of a tourist who was shot and killed by a suspected sniper in a popular hiking trail in Highland Park is pleading for help in finding the gunman as they prepare for a heartbreaking holiday season.

Jason Cortez, 29, was murdered while hiking in Debs Park in northeast Los Angeles near Highland Park on Sep. 10.

Cortez, a photographer from Virginia, had traveled to L.A. to work on a project with a friend who lives in the city.

The shooting involved a single shot fired from a rifle by a suspect hiding in the bushes sitting about 75 to 100 feet away, according to authorities.

"This is a very difficult time for our family," said a tearful Candelario Cortez, Jason's father, during a news conference on Friday. "The situation we never imagined. Please help us get some peace of mind."

The 29-year-old's father flew to L.A. from Virginia to ask the public for help.

Det. Alex Abundis with the Los Angeles Police Department called the murder "another representation of just another senseless killing."

"There is no reason. There is no motive behind this. It's something I can't explain," he said. "I talk to the family, I meet with them on a regular basis and there's nothing I can say that will help them understand this."

The victim's wife, Corina Solorzano, also spoke out on Friday and said this holiday season would've been the couple's first Christmas and New Year's as husband and wife.

"Jason was not only my husband and an amazing son and brother and loyal friend ... But now it's the first I'll celebrate without him in seven years," she said. "Jason's family and I are desperate for answers and we need your help. We need to know who did this and why. We need to understand what happened."

Abundis told Eyewitness News that a witness contacted LAPD the day of the shooting and helped detectives compose a composite sketch of the gunman.

He's being described as a Hispanic male in his 20s or 30s who's about 5 feet 11 inches tall. Abundis said he was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt.

A $50,000 reward is being offered for any information about who killed Jason Cortez.

You can also submit an anonymous tip by visiting the L.A. Crime Stoppers website.

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