Teen shot and killed in front of a Merced park

Family and friends of 15-year-old Luis Angel Zavaleta-Rios are devastated after police say he was shot and killed. (KFSN)
May 8, 2014 11:21:38 PM PDT
Family and friends of 15-year-old Luis Angel Zavaleta-Rios are devastated after police say he was shot and killed on the sidewalk in front of a park just one block from his home.

His father says many friends had just attended his son's 15th birthday party on Friday. And were shocked to learn of his death Thursday morning when they showed up for class at Merced Valley Community School.

About two dozen of his friends and classmates stopped by the park to leave flowers and light candles in Zavaleta's honor. They say the freshman was a good student who was passionate about construction. He also loved the sport of boxing, and was a member of a competitive club downtown.

Police say Zaveleta was shot in the upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Captain Tom Trindad with the Merced Police Department said, "We don't know if he was coming from a friend's house or on his way home. We don't know exactly what he was doing, we just know he was walking down the sidewalk at the time of the shooting."

While they believe the shooting maybe gang related, friends and family insist Zavaleta didn't have any gang affiliation. But admitted he may have been targeted for sometimes running with the wrong crowd.

This is Merced's 5th homicide of the year and the 2nd juvenile to be killed. Police are urging anyone with information to come forward in the case.