Virginia tourist family murdered by sniper while hiking near Highland Park begging for help to find gunman

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Three months after senseless murder, the family of a tourist who was shot and killed by a suspected sniper on a popular hiking trail in Highland Park are asking for help in locating the gunman as they prepare for a heartbreaking holiday season.

Jason Cortez, 29, was murdered while hiking in Debs Park in northeast Los Angeles near Highland Park on September 10.

Cortez, a photographer from Virginia, had traveled to LA to work on a project with a friend who lives in the city.

The shooting involved a single shot fired by a suspect hiding in the bushes sitting about 75 to 100 feet away, authorities said.

“This is a very difficult time for our family,” Candelario Cortez, Jason’s father, said tearfully at a press conference on Friday. “The situation we never imagined. Please help us have peace of mind.”

The 29-year-old father flew to Los Angeles from Virginia to ask the public for help.

Retail Alex Abundis of the Los Angeles Police Department called the murder “another representation of another senseless murder.”

“There is no reason. There is no reason behind it. It is something that I cannot explain,” he said. “I talk to the family, I meet them regularly and there is nothing I can say that can help them understand this.”

The victim’s wife, Corina Solorzano, also spoke out on Friday and said this holiday season would have been the couple’s first Christmas and New Years as husband and wife.

“Jason wasn’t just my husband and an amazing son, brother and loyal friend… But now it’s the first time I’ll celebrate without him in seven years,” she said. “Jason’s family and I are desperate for answers and we need your help. We need to know who did this and why. We need to understand what happened.”

Abundis told Eyewitness News that a witness contacted the LAPD on the day of the shooting and helped detectives compose a composite sketch of the shooter.

He is described as a Hispanic male in his twenties or thirties who is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall. Abundis said he was wearing a blue hoodie.

A reward of $ 50,000 is offered for any information on who killed Jason Cortez.

You can also submit an anonymous tip by visiting the LA Crime Stoppers website.

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