SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — A 35-year-old man was shot to death in his car early Friday morning on the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway in Sylmar in what police believe to be a road rage attack.
The California Highway Patrol received a call just before 1 a.m. about a Mitsubishi that was over the side of the road at the 210 and Roxford Street off-ramp, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“They saw this car that was off to the side. When they investigated, they saw a person slumped over in the driver side of the vehicle,” LAPD Det. Juan Santa said.
Sergio Sanchez, who worked as a mechanic, was found suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Preliminary evidence tends to show this is a case of road rage,” Lt. Paul Vernon said. “Bullet impacts and glass fragments lead us to think the shooter fired at the victim from the victim’s side of the car.”
Investigators said two or more rounds were fired at Sanchez, who was going westbound on the 210 near Polk Street.
“It appears that he was coming home from work,” Santa said.
Because of his injuries, Sanchez tried to pull off the freeway, which is how he ended up on the off-ramp.
“He did not appear to have a criminal record nor to be affiliated with any gang activity,” Vernon said.
Detectives were investigating whether reports of shots fired near Fenton and Tyler streets earlier in the evening were related to the incident.
“We had calls of shots fired around 11 p.m. about a mile from here, but it’s unknown right now if that’s connected,” Vernon said. “Of course that’s a whole hour or almost two hours span of time between those shots fired and this car being found on the freeway.”
Police asked anyone who was on the 210 Freeway between the 118 and 5 freeways around midnight to 1:30 a.m. to come forward if they noticed anything strange.
“If there are any kind of passersby who were through this area at the time and noticed the car there, but perhaps didn’t call the police, it might help us establish how long the car had been sitting there,” Vernon said.
Santa said he wants to help the victim’s family find some answers.
“He was definitely connected to his own family. Cousins and brothers that are going to be affected by this, and they’re going to miss him forever now,” he said.
On Friday night, friends of Sanchez, including several motorcyclists, placed candles and flowers at the spot he was discovered earlier in the day.
“He left us and not by choice. And that’s what’s not right at all,” friend Joseph Quintana said. “He was stopped at an am/pm to get a snack, gas, wash his car, and head home.”
Quintana said Sanchez enjoyed motorcycles and hiking with his dogs.
“He was respected by lot of people. He was the type of person who would take his coat off his back for you,” he said.
Quintana continued, “The immature individual who took my brother from us…I hope you see this and you see that he didn’t deserve this at all.”