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Crime & Justice

Wife of Westlake church murder victim asks witnesses to 'not be afraid'

Ana Mendez, holding her son, asks for witnesses to come forward in the murder of her husband, Andres Ordonez.
Ana Mendez, holding her son, asks for witnesses to come forward in the murder of her husband, Andres Ordonez.

During a Sunday service Andres Ordonez had stepped outside the Principe de Paz Church to talk with his pregnant wife, Ana Mendez, who wasn't feeling well. When he heard a noise, he went   outside, where he encountered a woman  spraypainting gang symbols on the side of the church.

It's unclear what happened next. Police say only that Ordonez, 25, "confronted" the tagger and when he did so, someone got out of a red, four-door, compact car and shot him to death. They describe that suspect as a 5'6" or 5'7" Hispanic male. Police believe a third person may have also been in the car.

All suspects are likely gang members, said LAPD Homicide Detective Jeff Cortina, and the church was a target because it lies in a heavily tagged border zone between two gang factions.

Those factors complicate the murder investigation. So far, a number of anonymous witnesses have come forward, but not enough, police said - probably because they're scared. The city of Los Angeles is now offering a $50,000 reward for information in the case.

"It's a busy intersection," Cortina said of the murder scene at Beverly Blvd. and Reno St. "There were a lot of people out there. I know that there were two or three or four or give people sitting right there, standing, walking by when it happened. I understand they're afraid. Hopefully because it's really just the right thing to do or because of the reward, they'll come forward."

Ordonez left behind his wife Ana Mendez and a one-and-a-half-year-old son. 

On Thursday, Mendez, whose grandfather is the pastor of Principe de Paz, asked witnesses to cooperate with police. 

"Don't be afraid," she said, "because the Lord is here." 

Mendez said she's been able to stay strong during shooting aftermath with help from her family and her faith. 

"I don't want to cry. There's no reason to cry," she said, especially in front of her son, who doesn't understand what happened. "I have my faith in God and that's what matters."