SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The family of 18-year-old Jesse Meza, and his cousin, 19-year-old Jarrod Santos, are devastated after both young men were shot and killed in South Los Angeles last month.
“You took someone so dear to us,” said their relative, Ricardo Meza. “You need to find it in your heart to come clean and turn yourself in. Give us a little bit of closure.”
Police said the cousins were hanging out in their car near Greenbelt Park in Wilmington on Sept. 30 around 3 a.m. when someone drove up, got out of their car, shot them, and drove away.
LAPD said that they believe the shooter mistook the boys for rival gang members, even though they have no gang affiliations.
“They were good kids, they meant everything to us,” Ricardo said. “Both these kids are Sunburst graduates, my nephew Jesse had aspirations to do some type of work with the military. Whatever issues are going on, that’s not the person you had the issues with, it’s just not fair, it’s not justifiable at all.”
Ricardo said he believes crimes like this shooting would be deterred in his community if security cameras were installed at the park and the new lights were turned on at night.
“If it was on and the camera’s shining bright, who would want to commit a crime? You’re being watched,” he said.
Since the shooting, Jesse and Jarrod’s family has watched over the the boys’ memorial to find comfort. They are also praying they’ll find answers soon.
“It’s not gonna bring Jesse or Jarrod back, but give us that peace,” Ricardo said.
The family of Jarrod and Jesse has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the funeral costs of both young men.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the LAPD’s South Bureau Homicide Division.