A U.S. Navy veteran was murdered on a Los Angeles freeway while driving his family home from a night out with friends.
As law enforcement is struggling to identify suspects in the fatal shooting, the man’s girlfriend and toddler are depending on friends and family to help them through this senseless tragedy.
Carl Flenoy Jr. 28, was traveling with Bria Echols and their 14-month-old daughter Chance on Saturday, Jan. 28. Around 2 a.m., on the 405 Freeway off-ramp at La Tijeras Boulevard near the Los Angeles International Airport, that two men drove up behind them, according to ABC 7 News.
One of the men got out of his vehicle and approached the Inglewood couple’s car with his gun drawn. Flenoy, according to Echols, tried to save his family, but to no avail. He was shot in the head. He died as the car crashed into other vehicles.
“It happened all so fast,” the girlfriend said. “Carl hit the gas. I hear a shot, and then we hit another vehicle head-on. Immediately open the door, and we start yelling for help. I look over, and Carl is slumped. There’s blood everywhere. All over my phone, and he’s not responding.”
Authorities said about half a dozen shots were fired into the car, according to KTLA.
Echols says she believes there was “no reason” for anyone to want to harm them, submitting, “I believe it was a random act of violence or mistaken identity, ’cause I just can’t see any cause to why anyone would want to do this to Carl.”
Reports show the family had a peaceful dinner at a nearby restaurant. Flenoy had not gotten into any road rage spats that evening.
“There’s no reason to believe that somebody would be out to get him,” said Jay Wilson, the victim’s cousin. “That’s just something that would never cross our minds. It’s heartbreaking because he’s a good guy. He’s been in the Navy. He’s a great dad, great son, great big brother. Always had a smile on his face, so it’s tragic.”
Now, Echols is forced to figure out some things very quickly, setting up a GoFundMe profile to raise some quick cash to support her and her daughter.
“That night our lives changed forever, and it’s a night I will never forget,” the bereaved mother said. “I am making this GoFundMe in support of me and my daughter. As we continue to heal and grieve your monetary donations will help us out a lot. This will be a long journey to healing and recovery.”
The crowdfunding campaign has a goal of $15,000, only raising a little over a quarter of that figure.
According to Echols, Flenoy was her “soulmate,” who will stay in her heart forever. He also meant the world to others, including relatives like his other daughter, his mother, and other relatives.
Wilson said, “His mom’s devastated, his sisters are devastated, all of us are.”
Witnesses to the killing say the suspects left the scene after hopping into a burgundy sedan. Unfortunately, a few of the cameras in the area were not working and were unable to capture the license plate of the getaway car, leaving police with very little evidence to piece the crime together.
This has left Echols “scared” to even come out of her house.
“It makes me scared,” Echols said. “A little bit afraid to leave my home. Not even a little bit. You can’t do something as simple as go on a date or wait or exit a freeway. I feel like a piece of me is gone. It hurts. Literally my protector. My best friend. It was to a point where we were finishing each other’s sentences,” said Echols.
The California Highway Patrol is asking the community to share if anyone has any news about that early morning crime.
“We’re hoping somebody has a conscience,” said Wilson. “Somebody out there saw something. Somebody driving by saw something.”