Army veteran shot, killed in California doing yard work at home, 4 people charged: Police

Community members are mourning the loss of a U.S. Army veteran who was killed at his own home in California while doing yard work. Four people have been charged in connection to his death.

Mario Morales-Moreno, 51, was killed on April 4 at his Long Beach home, the Long Beach Police Department wrote in a news release the day after he was killed.

Someone called officers at 6:44 p.m. that day about a shooting. When officers arrived, they found a man suffering from gunshot wounds to his lower body. The Long Beach Fire Department also showed up and took him to a local hospital, where he was initially listed as being in stable condition.

A second man, Morales-Moreno, was at the scene suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper body and the fire department pronounced him dead at the scene.

Once homicide detectives showed up, they found that suspects fired numerous rounds at both victims. They don’t think Morales-Moreno was the intended target.

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Four suspects detained, charged

While at the scene, officers detained three males in the area. One of the suspects, 20-year-old Taylor Byron Woods, was booked for one count of murder and had a firearm the night of the shooting, police said in a news release on April 5.

Long Beach Police Department Chief of Police Wally Hebeish announced Wednesday that in addition to Woods, three other suspects have been arrested in the shooting death of Morales-Moreno.

Police submitted their information to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing and by Thursday, the office announced charges had been filed against the four individuals for Morales-Moreno’s death and the attempted murder of four other people in Long Beach.

“Mr. Morales-Moreno, an Army veteran and a father of two, had his life senselessly taken too soon, and four other victims are left coping with the aftermath of this violence,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said about the case. “Our office will work to hold these defendants responsible for their alleged actions and bring justice to all who have been affected by these crimes.”

Each individual was charged with one count of murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime, the district attorney’s office said Thursday.

The office said each defendant is accused of shooting at four other individuals. One of the victims suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Altogether, those arrested include:

  • Jordan Omarion Stokes, 18

  • Taylor Byron Woods, 20

  • Tyrell DeShawn Louden Jr., 20

  • Semaj Lamar O’Brien, 21

Suspects could face life in prison if convicted, officials condemn gang violence

The district attorney’s office also said Thursday that “the murder was committed willfully, deliberately and with premeditation” and “Stokes and Louden Jr., personally used a handgun.”

All four arrested will be arraigned April 25 at the Long Beach Courthouse. They are all being held on $8 million bail.

If convicted, they will face life in prison.

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson said this week that “gang violence has no place in our community and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.”

Chief of Police Wally Hebeish also condemned the violence this week.

“Gang-related violence has no place in any part of our city, and this callous criminal act has forever changed the lives of Mr. Moreno’s family,” he said Wednesday. “The tireless investigative work and arrests of these suspects again demonstrates the commitment of our personnel to hold violent individuals accountable and take dangerous firearms out of their hands.”

'He is well loved by his neighbors': Community remembers Army veteran

One of Morales-Moreno’s neighbors shared an online fundraiser to help his family in a Facebook post and said he was a disabled Army veteran and a senior code enforcement officer.

“He was a few years away from retiring at 55," wrote the neighbor and Facebook user. “He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. He is well loved by his neighbors.”

A person who identified themselves as a friend and neighbor of Morales-Moreno stated in a description for the fundraiser that "Mario was a fixture in our North Long Beach neighborhood, always looking out for others and helping anyone in need. He welcomed others into his home and was proud of his home improvements and beautiful yard."

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY's NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Army veteran Mario Morales-Moreno killed in shooting outside his home