POMONA (CBSLA.com) — Police Monday were investigating the fatal shooting of a youth pastor hours after the community held a rally urging an end to gun violence.
Daniel Diaz, a youth pastor at New Beginning Community Ministry in Baldwin Park, was killed while seated in the passenger seat of his car around 12:42 a.m. at the corner of South Park Avenue and Mayfair Street in Pomona, police said.
Diaz’s closest friends told KCAL9’s Randy Paige he devoted his life to helping troubled teens.
“He’s a leader, and you just want to be around him ’cause he’ll bring the best out in you,” said close friend and family spokesman Louie Mateo.
According to Mateo, Diaz was celebrating the recent graduation of a boy from a church youth program by taking him to a movie.
Diaz, along with three other men, had dropped off the boy in the area when an unknown suspect walked up to their vehicle and fired a gun. The 33-year-old pastor was the only one hit by gunfire.
He was taken to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he died shortly after 1 a.m., officials said.
“Nothing that Daniel was involved in would cause for something like this to happen,” Mateo said. “So you just gotta say you know what? God is in control.”
A motive for the shooting has not been released.
“Probably a young guy just like the type he’s been helping that might have pulled that trigger,” family friend and church member Johnny Contreras said of the possible suspect.
Contreras said Diaz was following in his father’s footsteps. David Diaz is the founding pastor of a Baldwin Park church.
“They knew each others’ heartbeat,” Contreras said. “Just the obedience of the son to the father and the love from the father to the son, was just unbreakable.”
Diaz’s mother is also a pastor at the church.
More than 200 people gathered Sunday for a day of prayer, organized by community leaders, calling for an end to gun violence in the city, where 25 killings have taken place this year. On one night in August, four shootings occurred within six hours of each other.
The Diaz family is asking anyone with information to come forward and call the Pomona Police Department’s Detective Bureau at (909) 620-2085. Those with anonymous tips should contact “Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477.
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