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Lompoc homicide victim remembered for his smile; police seeking information from public

Lompoc homicide victim remembered for his smile; police seeking information from public

From the 2019's Best: Collection of the top stories of the year on series

The Lompoc man who was gunned down late Sunday night and died early Monday morning was remembered by two of his sisters late Monday afternoon as a “mama’s boy” who loved to smile.

De’Andre LeJames Valrie, who would have turned 26 this Saturday, was shot late Sunday night in the 600 block of North Fourth Street and died hours later after receiving medical treatment. The Lompoc Police Department announced Monday that it had launched a murder investigation, and asked for help from members of the public who might have information.

No arrests had been made as of Monday evening, and police had not revealed any suspected motive.

While that investigation continued, members of Valrie’s family started a memorial near the crime scene on Monday and several friends, family members and neighbors gathered there to pay their respects. The memorial, which is located directly across the street from Valrie’s childhood bedroom window, was filled with candles, flowers and beer and liquor bottles, and also contained a poster board that had been signed by several supporters.

“He was very outgoing and he always had a smile on his face,” Khristiana Valrie, De’Andre’s sister, said as she sat in her car near the memorial and struggled to stay composed.

“We started off as little kids right here,” she later added, pointing to their childhood home.

De’Andre Valrie was known by many as “Fat Man,” a nickname he was given as a child by his mother, according to family members, who also noted that Valrie had an especially close connection to his mother, who died in 2012.

The Lompoc Police Department did not reveal many details — including the victim’s name — surrounding the case, citing the nature of the investigation.

Department officials reported that they responded to a call regarding a shooting around midnight in the 600 block of North Fourth Street. Upon arrival, officers located a victim who had been shot and began to render medical aid until paramedics arrived and took over. The Lompoc Police report of the incident asked that anyone with information contact the Lompoc Police Department at 805-736-2341 or through the department’s mobile app. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Khristiana Valrie said Monday evening that the previous 20 hours had been torture for her and her family.

“We got the call last night, and sat in the hospital for hours before they even told us anything,” she said. “We went to the hospital window multiple times and they wouldn’t tell us nothing. Then finally they came, the police department and [California] Highway Patrol, and told us they had been working on him for over an hour and they couldn’t save him.”

“It’s been very emotional — today, last night, not getting much sleep,” she added. “We just want to put him to rest, that’s it.”

The shooting sparked the fifth homicide investigation this year for the Lompoc Police Department.

Shantell Fritz, another of De’Andre’s sisters, said that her brother was a father to a young child and had another baby due this summer. While she noted that his loss will always be felt, she said that she’ll always remember one of her brother's features, in particular.

“His dimples,” she said, smiling. “He had two big dimples and he loved to smile. He got them from his mother.”

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.


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