The man accused of shooting and killing an East County man outside a bar on Moreno Boulevard appeared in court Friday. The judge ordered the media to tilize the defendant's face because he is a minor.
Christopher Hawthorne, 25, was at a live music performance at O'Connell's Bar on Morena Boulevard Jan. 17 when he became involved in an argument in the parking lot. Officers received a report of 12 people fighting in front of the bar.
"The shooter, not one of the original combatants, pulled out a handgun, chased Hawthorne down the sidewalk, and shot him where he was found," Lieutenant Kevin Rooney said.
When officers arrived, they found Hawthorne on the corner of Savannah Street and Morena Boulevard (one block from the bar). He victim died.
Detectives identified 17-year-old Alex Garcia as the suspect. Officers arrested Garcia at about 1:05 p.m. the day of the shooting in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.
On Friday, bail was set at $2 million and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 22.
Hawthorne had a long criminal history, including a hate crime conviction and documented ties to a "White Power" gang. Read article here
A memorial has been set up at the place where Hawthorne was killed. A flyer with his photograph is posted along with flowers, a stuffed animal, and a balloon. In capital letters the flyer reads "Hail Our Fallen Comrade! 88!"
Eighty-eight is used as code among Neo-Nazis to identify each other. H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 is taken to stand for HH which in turn means Heil Hitler.
San Diego Homicide detectives are trying to see if there is a link to the number "88" printed on the flyer and the murder case.
The police helicopter that flew over the scene has a telephoto lens that can see if evidence was tossed onto the ground or rooftops. A nearby building also has surveillance cameras. The owner said he would turn the tapes over to police. There are also cameras at the bar.
"This is not what you want to have in front of your business," said business owner Vincent Quintana.