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Verdugo Road Homicide: Victim's Boyfriend Likely Confused for Gang Member

The aunt of Nicole Zuniga, 18, who was fatally shot in Glassell Park Monday, says neither she nor her boyfriend, who was also shot, belonged to gangs.

Nicole Zuniga, the 18-year-old woman who was killed by a single shot Monday night on Verdugo Road in Glassell Park, was "a very kind a loving girl not involved in gangs or anything like that," according to her aunt, who e-mailed Patch the accompanying two photos. The aunt asked asked that her name not be used.

Zuniga succumbed to her gunshot injuries on the sidewalk in front of her home on 3232 Verdugo Rd. despite efforts by paramedics to revive her, according to the LAPD. Homicide detectives from the Northeast Community Station are investigating her murder, which may or may not be gang-related, according to the police.

Click here to read our previous updates about this incident.

Michael Cortez, 21, who was with Zuniga at the time, was also shot and rushed to USC Medical Center, where he was in critical condition, according to Sgt. Roberto Alaniz, the watch commander at the Northeast Community Station on Tuesday morning.

"Nicole was planning on attending college this year," the aunt wrote Patch in an e-mail Tuesday evening, adding that Cortez was her boyfriend. She described him as a "tall, gentle-giant sweet kid who lived in the San Pasqual area [and] who was attending culinary school to be a chef."

The email continued: "I was told that it seemed like Nicole got shot in the head first and then her bf [boyfriend]. The shooter must have confused her bf for a gang member or something because those two kids were not gang members. I can't wait till there is some justice for my niece and her bf."

Homicide detectives, who worked all night Monday, could not be reached Tuesday. Patch will get in touch with them Wednesday.

Check back at this site or Eagle Rock Patch for more details.

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