U.S. Army veteran gunned down at homecoming party

Francisco Garcia. Photo credit: Facebook

A US Army veteran has been shot dead in Los Angeles while celebrating his return from Afghanistan.

, 21, attended his homecoming party, hosted by his “proud and happy” girlfriend, in Sylmar on Saturday night, LAPD said.

Mr Garcia was standing on the pavement outside the party in the early hours of Sunday when he was confronted by a Hispanic man in a car.

The suspect and Mr Garcia had a dispute earlier in the day, police said.

After smashing a beer bottle on the ground, the suspect got a handgun from the occupant of another vehicle and started shooting Mr Garcia, who died at the scene.

“It appears Francisco was the target of the attack,” Los Angeles Police Department Lt Paul Vernon said.

“Apparently, a simmering dispute had boiled over during the night, and this suspect came looking for Francisco.

“Figuring out the dispute should lead us to the shooter.

Police say they do not believe those involved had been at the party.

No arrests have been made.

Mr Garcia had completed his tour of duty just two weeks ago.

“The ironies are obvious,” Lt Vernon told KTLA-TV.

“To survive as a soldier in an overseas conflict, only to be killed in your old neighbourhood upon your return.”

Mr Garcia’s friends and family fought back tears at a candlelit vigil on Sunday night at the spot where he was killed.

“Any man that puts on the uniform of the United States armed forces in my book is a hero,” said one man at the vigil.

Mr Garcia had reportedly just been accepted into the California Highway Patrol Academy, fulfilling a long-held ambition to become a police officer.

(c) Sky News 2014

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