The case of Juan Manuel Chavez shows that drive-by shootings still happen, even in relatively safe, suburban communities in the San Fernando Valley.
Several witnesses were with the victim, 15-year-old Santiago Polanco, at the time of the shooting just before noon.
They were walking through the alley at Roscoe Boulevard and Sharp Avenue on the morning of New Year's Eve, 2001. A green Jeep Cherokee drove up to the victim. Police said that Chavez was sitting in the passenger seat.
The victim was shot multiple times with a blue steel handgun. The police have the car and the weapon, but confirmed Chavez was in Michoacan, Mexico as of 2009.
Chavez was a member of the Down With Pacoima gang. The Arleta-area tagging crew can be identified by the letters DWP. Gang-related graffiti is a major indicator of crime in the area.
Det. Thomas Townsend, homicide detective assigned to North Hollywood division of the Los Angeles Police Department, warns people to be aware of the threat tagging poses.
"Realistically, if people in the community start seeing tagging on the wall, they need to notify the Los Angeles Police Departments, and if they're in North Hollywood, certainly here," Townsend said.
"We have a community tagger task force that deals with tagging that goes on in areas. If new tagging is going up, that does raise some concern for us in a matter of different areas," the detective explained.
Identifying tagging can actually help the LAPD find suspects and solve crimes. Plus, it's a crime itself.
"It affords us an opportunity to obtain intelligence. Sometimes we can make arrests out of it but certainly we want to keep it off the streets, sidewalks, walls, things of that nature," Townsend said.
The victim was a member of the Violent Boys gang. Citizens can be more aware of the local gang tags to avoid encountering their violent members.
"There are numerous gangs in the North Hollywood area and the Sun Valley area and the Foothill area," the detective explained.
"Each gang has their own specific colors, hand signs, symbols. To get into them would be exhaustive in nature: For Violent Boys, it could be VBS. For Langdon Street, LST. Vincent Town, VCT. North Hollywood Locos, NHLS."
If you have any information about Juan Manuel Chavez, call North Hollywood Homicide Detectives at (818) 523-4075.
He can be recognized by a scar on his upper lip and two gunshot scars on his left arm.
Suspect: Chavez, Juan Manuel
Alias: Manuel Chavez
Height: 5-foot, 9-inches
Weight: 130 pounds
Date of Birth: Nov 16, 1980
Oddities: Scar on upper lip, two gunshot scars on left arm
Wanted on charges of Murder
Victim: Santiago Polanco
Date of Incident: Dec. 31, 2001
Place of Incident: Roscoe Boulevard and Sharp Avenue
(This is part of a continuing series of stories of the Most Wanted Criminals of the North Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Click here for the previous stories.)