East LA: Sheriff asks for help in identifying killer of 18-year-old man, announces $15,000 reward

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Family members and Los Angeles County sheriff's officials on Wednesday asked for the public's help in identifying those responsible for the murder of an 18-year-old man.

Diego Ortega-Reza and two others were driving home together from a 4th on July celebration earlier this year when Ortega-Reza was shot in the head.

On July 5, at about 12:45 a.m., Ortega-Reza was in the front passenger seat of a gray Toyota Sienna minivan. He, his younger brother and a friend were driving westbound on Cesar Chavez Avenue, authorities said. As they approached the intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Lorena Street, an unidentified person fired gunshots at their vehicle.

Ortega-Reza was struck by gunfire, and the driver of the vehicle immediately drove to a nearby hospital, the Sheriff's Department said. Ortega-Reza was then transferred to a trauma center where he he died on July 10.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and homicide detectives joined the victim's loved ones at a press conference in East Los Angeles, where they pleaded with anyone who has information about the case to come forward.

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"He wanted to do so much in life, but that was cut short," said Ulysses Ortega, the victim's brother. "So I'm just here speaking, hoping that this gets out to the public, someone knows something and speaks up."

Investigators say it's unclear whether the shooter was in a vehicle or on foot, and there is no indication that the victims had done anything to provoke the attack.

"I know somebody saw something. It was a very special day in this country,," Ortega-Reza's mother, Socorro Ortega, said in Spanish, referring to the Fourth of July holiday. "Somebody had to be outside, they saw, they heard something. Please help us. The entire family is devastated. My other son was a passenger and he is doing badly. He wanted to be here but he couldn't. He can't, he has taken it badly. Whoever did this has caused an immeasurable pain to us. My son was not a bad person, he had no tattoos, nothing."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500, or if you prefer to provide information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).
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