Photographer Killed by Sniper While Hiking in Los Angeles Park

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A photographer hiking a popular trail in Los Angeles was shot and killed by a suspected sniper, and now his family is asking the public for help in finding the gunman and delivering justice to the victim.

On September 10th, hikers came across the lifeless body of a man on a popular trail in Ernest E. Debs Park in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The victim was identified by a family member as 29-year-old Jason Cortez, a newlywed photographer who had just purchased his first home and who had traveled from Virginia to shoot photos for a friend’s project, WEAU reports.

After investigating the crime scene, police determined that Cortez had been shot with a rifle in the back by a suspect hiding in bushes located about 75 to 100 feet away.

Authorities have announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the “senseless killing.”

Authorities have also released a composite sketch of the suspected sniper based on information received from a witness who contacted LAPD.

A composite sketch of the suspected sniper. Courtesy LAPD.

The suspect was reportedly wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and is being described as a Hispanic male about 5 feet 11 inches tall and in his 20s or 30s.

“There is no reason. There is no motive behind this. It’s something I can’t explain,” LAPD Detective Alex Abundis tells ABC7. “I talk to the family, I meet with them on a regular basis and there’s nothing I can say that will help them understand this.”

Photographer Jason Cortez. Portraits via GoFundMe.

With the investigation running out of leads, Cortez’s family is now making a public appeal for information in hopes that someone out there can help crack the case.

“Such a great kid,” Cortez’s father states in an interview with NewsNation Now. “Good student. Good friend. Very talented. A filmmaker, a musician, […] a photographer. We’ve got a magazine that published his pictures back in 2020. He made the cover of the magazine.”

“Jason was an incredible friend and was loved by so many people. He was so dedicated, intelligent, and a free spirit,” states a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $70,000 to support Cortez’s family. “His love for his family and friends transcended over everything. He always had a smile and made light of every situation he was dealt. He was adventurous and loved traveling. He was a go-getter with many dreams and goals.

“He married the love of his life, Corina, last year & they bought their first home together to provide a beautiful yard for their sweet pup, Stella. Jason was a family man – he loved his family and would do anything and everything for those he loved.”

Anyone with information can contact Detective Abundis at (213) 486-8700 or send anonymous tips through the L.A. Crime Stoppers website.

Image credits: Portraits of Jason Courtez courtesy celebratingjasoncortez.com

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