Joseph Mendoza, 22
Died Feb. 14, 2007 at 10:51 a.m.
Joseph Mendoza, 22, a Latino man, was struck by a fence that had been hit by a car at 2907 Amethyst St. in Lincoln Heights and died at 10:51 a.m. Feb. 14. Two men, occupants of the moving car, have been arrested in this case, which remains under investigation.
Update: LAPD Hollenbeck detectives have filed homicide charges against the Latino suspects
Dispatch: A Fight Turns Deadly [Originally published Feb. 20, 2007]
Two men have been arrested related to the Valentine's Day death of Joseph Mendoza, 22, in an unusual case involving a fight, some cars, and the steel gate leading to a hillside hangout between El Sereno and Lincoln Heights.
The site, pictured here, is a popular party spot and a kind of lovers' lane for El Sereno's young people—a vacant piece of property high above the city, known to locals as "Love Hill."
Love Hill is accessible only to those who know how to navigate a series of winding streets through an old Los Angeles neighborhood where some roads remain unpaved. Isolated and spacious, the lot offers one of the most spectacular views of the basin around on a clear day.
Late at night, Mendoza—described by police as a student and musician—and some friends had encountered another group atop the hill. A fight broke out, possibly over a woman who was a girlfriend of one suspect, said LAPD Det. Marc Phillips.
He said the suspects got in their car and used it to menace Mendoza's group, gunning toward them as the young men leaped out of the way. The car that Mendoza's group had brought was rammed, and the suspects eventually sped away. At some point in the melee, however, Mendoza suffered a head injury, possibly when he was struck by the gate at left, which may have been hit by the suspects' car, Phillips said.
He died a day later. Two men are in custody. At present they are charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of a hit-and-run involving a death, but detectives say the investigation is not yet complete.
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Updated: Feb. 1, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.