Death on a Boyle Heights street corner*

An Eastsider reader was about to pump gas at the 76 Station at the corner of Fourth Street and Boyle Avenue in Boyle Heights Thursday afternoon when he thought he heard something in the background as trucks and cars rushed by. Then he noticed that other gas station customers were looking across Boyle Avenue. He turned to see a female traffic control officer running on Boyle to the body of a man who had fallen face down into the street near the curb. At first it was not clear what had happened. Had he been hit by a car? It turned out the man had just been shot several times. The Eastsider reader described what happened in the next few minutes before police arrived as he and others watched a man die near the corner of Fourth and Boyle. The man’s last audible words: “I’ve been shot.”

The reader, who did not want his name disclosed, and others rushed to the man, a Latino dressed in jeans and a dark shirt, who had collapsed on to the pavement between two cars.  An older man was heard to say “Fueron cinco balazos” (There were five gunshots). The victim somehow managed to stand up. Blood covered one of his hands and he had a bloody spot on  his chin. He tried to speak but the only words The Eastsider reader could understand were, “I’ve been  shot.” Blood began to sputter and  then pour out of the victim’s mouth. He began to convulse and onlookers helped him sit down on the curb. A medic in a passing ambulance pulled over and came to the victim’s assistance. But the man’s eyes rolled backed into his head he fell back on the pavement. A woman began to wail.

The Eastsider reader then noticed that some of the people who had rushed to the scene were suddenly gone. He became fearful. “I didn’t know who had done it and if they were still there.”  As police sealed off the street and paramedics arrived, The Eastsider reader walked back to the gas station and and drove off. “I went to get a drink. I needed a beer.”

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, The Eastsider reader said he had seen other people shot. But their deaths had been nearly instantaneous – not the slow motion death he witnessed on Thursday afternoon. “It’s going to take a while to bury those images.”

The suspects in what is believed to be a gang-related shooting remain at large, an LAPD spokeswoman said today.  Thursday’s killing follows three other recent Boyle Heights homicides.

* Update: The victim has been identified as 29-year-old Emmanuel Vargas. LAPD


  1. How terrible. RIP

  2. What a vivid, harrowing account.

  3. i live over there and i knew the man. He was nice and his daughter was in da house when this happened…..I don’t understand people, I do believe it will catch up to who did this……i have to get used to not seein hi every morning takin his kid to school wit his wife..

  4. What makes them think they can take other people’s life? But again, hopefully they will just kill each other at some point!

  5. Miss Hollywood

    I’m so sorry you had to witness this. It seems surreal. RIP

  6. This is terrible, it looks like the gang activity is really starting to heat up around Boyle Heights. The past year was rather calm until these recent incidents. Hopefully this will be the last of the violence.

  7. I was the EMT at the scene who was first on scene. Was a terrible thing. Hopefully this story has updates.

    • Good morning.. it’s been some time now.. but I am Emmanuel’s wife.. I’m grateful for you.. trying to help my husband.. I’m asking you if your ever up to it.. I take you out for a drink.. it’s the least that I can do.. Thank you from myself and daughter..

      • Hello, just saw this comment right now. It’s been a long time. You’re welcome, I’m sorry for your loss. Hopefully there has been an update?

    • Heather Villareal

      So almost 5 years later and no updates.. no answers now no response from the detective agency.. But Mr.emt I’d like to meet you and buy you a beer or two.. thank you.. you can find me on Instagram 7cuddle5 also on Facebook Heather Villareal

      • I’m sorry to hear about the lack of updates. I appreciate the offer but it’s not necessary. Any questions you had for me?

  8. Out of touch white guy

    Why don’t these gang members just put the guns down and get a job like the rest of us? We don’t live in a third world country where violence is part of our survival. 99% of this city go about their day civilly, but this 1% ruins it for everyone. Maybe they just need a hug.

  9. What these people need is Jesus Christ in their hearts.

  10. I am the fiancée of the victims sister. I just want to clarify that he was not a gang member and this is not just another gang shooting. He was a good father whose wife and daughter miss tremendously. We have not heard from the investigator as of yet. I am sure he is off and every good detective deserves his day off, but it would sure be nice to hear from him. These details are painful to read and I only pray that justice is served. Not with a gun but with the swift hammer of the law. No person wishes this even on their worst enemy. These cold hearted perps are nothing but animals with nothing to offer society.

    • I am so sorry and disgusted by what I have read. My prayers are with Vargas’ wife and daughter. Do you know if there is an obituary I can view online?

  11. He’s in a better place watching down on his beautiful daughter and wife… He lived for his wife and daughter… No one deserves to die this way… Hope they find the person who did it and justice is made…my condolences to his family

  12. Rest in peace, friend. Love to yor family.

  13. I work with this man’s mother and as I mother I hope and pray that these people are caught and justice is served. This will never bring her son back. All this violence has to stop and especially in front of children – no child should have to hear or see their parent being shot over gangs – drugs – whatever.

  14. I thank you for all the Love and Support you have given to my family. Please continue to keep my daughter and myself in your PRAYERS,My husband will truley be missed,by all his family and friends.He was a wonderful father and a wonderful husband!!!!

  15. rip emmanuel.i hope the catch you murderer.this is no way for a man to die.

  16. During the investigation, detectives learned Vargas and a friend were waiting for another person in front of an apartment when a person with a gun walked up and opened fire.

    Officials said the killing appears to be gang-related.

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