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The Shooting

September 18th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon


NOTE: The story below is the beginning of a tale that will run as a series.


Exactly five years ago today Karen Domaloan got the call.

She was lying propped up in her bed watching late night television waiting for her son Michael to come home.

She understood that was ridiculous to wait up for a twenty-one year old, but she couldn’t help it. She did her best not to over-mother Michael now that he had moved home after the big fight with his girlfriend, Monique, a few weeks before.

Karen pretty much figured the split was temporary, that the two young people would likely end up together. But that was the thing, they were young. The pair seemed very attached to each other, but they were also hot-headed and sometimes neither had the sense to back down when backing down was needed.

This argument was bigger than usual and, when the anger cleared, it was agreed that Monique would keep the apartment while Michael would pack his things and move into his childhood bedroom.

Karen adored having her son at home. She doted on her two girls, of course, Mandy and Nicole, his sisters. But she was uniquely close to Michael, the baby. A big, beautiful kid who was a natural athlete, looks-wise Michael took after his Hawaiian father, Melvin, who had been killer-handsome as a younger man. But while Melvin tended toward a Zen-ish sort of yep/nope taciturnity, emotionally, Michael was his mother’s child, expressive and awash with feelings.

He could also be tough.. Karen didn’t like to think about it, but she knew he’d been in fights, and that he was probably good at fighting. A few years back, when he was 15 or so he’d gotten in with the wrong crowd, there’d been a juvenile arrest and she’d had to put her foot down. Eventually maturity seemed to kick in. Now Michael was working construction, which suited him, and he was really busting his butt to move up the food chain on the building crew. Plus he was finally going back to school. First Pierce College in Canoga Park, and then, she and Melvin hoped, on to a four-year. Michael wasn’t academic like his sister Mandy, but he was a smart kid, and he said he wanted to have the degree, so Karen thought he might stick it out.

Through it all, even the rebellious times, she and Michael remained close.

When the phone rang at nearly 1 a.m. Karen assumed it was Michael calling to say he was on his way home, that she shouldn’t worry. She grabbed the cordless at her bedside.


“You need to come to Northridge Hospital now…”

Karen was momentarily disoriented. It was not Michael’s voice, but Johnny, her son’s close friend and one of the guys she knew he was with that night. At least she thought it was Johnny. His voice sounded odd, not at all normal.

“What?” she said.

“You need to come to Northridge. Just come. You need to come.”

Karen was alone in the house in Chatsworth. Melvin, a Vietnam Vet who still occasionally suffered bouts of PTSD and went off the wagon, was at Veterans hospital for treatment. She pulled on clothes and scrambled for keys to the grey Chevy Tahoe. And then she headed for the Northridge Hospital Medical Center located at the corner on Roscoe and Reseda. Michael was hurt, she thought. He must be hurt bad or he would have called her not, Johnny. Michael was the Alpha of his group. Always had been, even as a kid. His sisters, while older than her son, now regarded him as the big brother, all three of them agreeing on the switch in position.

Karen also thought about how she’d asked him not to go out
that night because she’d had an uncomfortable feeling. But Michael had been Michael.

“Don’t worry, mom,” he’d said. “I can take care of myself. I won’t be late.” And see? She’d been right. Now, look, he was hurt.


At the hospital, she parked and walked quickly into the ER entrance. Unsure exactly what she was to do, she gave her name to woman at the registration window.

“I’m Karen Domaloan.”

The woman said to wait a minute. Karen waited. Then a man in a lab coat, obviously a doctor came out and asked her to follow him into one of the examination rooms.

It was then that Karen knew before the doctor told her.

“I want to see my son,” she said,
the hysteria rising like groundwater. “Let me see my son,” she said.

And there he was,
she told me earlier this week, when I asked her to again describe what she remembered from that night. “He was just lying on the table.” Karen wondered absently why the hospital hadn’t fixed him up better, closed the wounds a little more.

After that, Karen’s memory is vague. She remembers losing it—screaming and crying uncontrollably, then lying over Michael’s body and telling everyone, friends, even her brothers, to go away, not to touch him, until eventually it was she who had to be pulled away.

Karen didn’t hear the circumstances of her son’s death until later when Johnny and his dad came over to the house to tell her, Johnny barely able to talk. Even then she couldn’t quite take it in. There’d been a fight at a club, a place called Bub Blurs, on Lindley Avenue and Nordhoff. It was a no-alcohol hookah club right across from Cal State Northridge where people came to smoke flavored tobacco and listen to music. There’d been a fight at the club earlier with Michael and Felix involved, then everyone left and came back. As Johnny described it, Michael and his friend Felix Quiroz, 23, had gotten in a second fist fight with some guys, and one from the other group had pulled a gun and started blasting at the combatants in front of a bunch of witnesses. Felix died at the scene, while Michael had been alive and talking when they drove him to the hospital. “So everybody thought he’d make it,” Johnny said.

According to the Devonshire Division police report, Michael Domaloan died at 12:33 a.m. on September 18, 2003.

He was shot three times. The last shot, the killing shot, entered through the rear of his left shoulder and travelled south. It passed through his left lung then continued to travel in a downward path into his abdominal cavity where it pierced his stomach, pancreas and liver. An examining physician, Dr. Carrillo, estimated that the last shot was fired at close range, likely from six inches away.

A third boy, Chris Landeros, was shot too, yet his wounds were not serious.

Karen didn’t learn these forensic details until much, much later. Her brother, Chris Greenwood, was the one who mostly dealt with the police and other officials since she was in no shape to do it.

“The two detectives who came over a couple of times gave me the impression that, once they caught the guy, it was pretty much a slam dunk,” said Greenwood. The cops, while professional, tried to reassure him, he said, that as bad as the loss was, at least justice would be done. This was a case that would be prosecuted as first degree murder.

On September 19, a story about the shooting ran in the Los Angeles Times. It read in part:

Detective Orlando Martinez, one of the investigators on the case, said neither Domaloan nor Quiroz had any history of trouble, and the club was not a location with a reputation for trouble.

“I’m kind of stunned about it,”
said Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Joe Curreri, head of the Devonshire Division. “It’s a sad commentary about how prolific guns are and how quickly people tend to use them.”

Witnesses told police a fight had broken out in the club’s parking lot about 11 p.m. The participants left, but then returned about a half-hour later and starting fighting again.

Authorities said a man described only as an 18- to 20-year-old Latino fired a gun into the crowd, striking the three victims.

“This city’s nuts,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Ronald Bergmann, Valley Bureau commander.

A month and a half later, on November 4, 2003, Alejandro Murillo, also in his early 20’s, was arrested for the murders of Michael Domaloan and Felix Quiroz.

After Murillo’s arrest, said the Domaloans, everything seemed to change.


Posted in crime and punishment, criminal justice, LAPD, Presidential race, The Shooting | 29 Comments »

29 Responses

  1. Alan Mittelstaedt Says:

    Hey, this should be a cover story in any number of L.A. newspapers and magazines. What’s up with editors these days? And it’s a fucking mystery why newspaper profits are down?…Strike all that. It’s wonderful to see your online publishing company embracing brilliant storytelling innovations. Renew my subscription, please!

  2. Nancy Rommelmann Says:

    A split second “I don’t even want to imagine” horror becomes a wound that spans years and generations. There is no fixing this, but there is some redemption in having Celeste tell this story. She cannot fix it, but she can tell it. Thank you.

  3. Ed Cray Says:


    May I ask that you send to me a copy of your three-part about the death of Michael Domaloan. I would like to use it in a feature writing class I will be teaching at USC’s J-school next semester. It is a great example of simply retelling a story without hyping the drama, or the anguish.

    Ed Cray

    P.S. I miss your byline in the Times.

  4. Sandy Says:

    How devastating, I know Karen and know how awful and horrible this has been for her. As you read on, you will realize how corruption is still within our communities. No one can imagine for even a split second the horrer and pain murder causes to a family, but most especially when Justice is denied by those who serve to protect.

  5. Edith Gomez Says:

    My prayers and condolences go out to the family that mourns for the loss of a beloved son and brother. I can’t even fathom the pain and grief they suffered. My heart goes out to all that knew Michael Domaloans and his friend Felix Quiroz.

    I love you Karen and I just want to let you know that I believe you are one the strongest women I have ever met and I admire the strength and courage who have put forth to have your voice heard.

  6. Lisa Says:

    This is a story that need’s to be told. I have a feeling that with Celeste’s words, some sense can be made out of something that makes no sense at all. No one ever recovers from the loss of their child.

  7. Anya Says:

    I agree with Lisa this is a story that need’s to be told. The impact that murder has on a family is full of grief and pain. My condolenses two both families. Karen keep strong and don’t give up hope.

  8. Stephanie Romero Says:

    To the family & friends of Michael P. Domaloan……I am at a loss for words to say, for the pain you feel. I know this loss was harder then most difficult times along lifes way. For this great Man your grieving will remain in your hearts forever. He is not really gone…you all keep him alive in your memories till you meet again, many years from now, in a better place, In heaven.


    Stephanie Romero

  9. Stacy Says:

    I think that this story should defenitly be published so that hopefully something good will come from such a horrible incident.

  10. David Says:

    At first I was curious to see where this lead. I’ve checked a couple times and the more I wait, the more I want to know. What happend to the killer? The family? There has to be more. Celeste, Dont keep us waiting.
    Thanks, Dave

  11. Julie Says:

    What is taking so long? I know we are in the middle of a historical election, but this series was started over a month ago. Will there be a follow up to this story?

    Julie S
    Moorpark Ca

  12. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Juie, thanks so much for asking. The election is a big part of it. The next installments will appear this month.

  13. Lori Says:

    It looks as though this story has once again, fallen by the wayside. It has been two months since it was presented as a series. Once again interest has faded. Waiting this long was really a bad idea…

  14. Sandy Says:

    I’ve been waiting for the rest of this story. It’s December know. There has to be more. I read this murderer isn’t behind bars, I’d like to know the “WHY” if that is so!

  15. Bubba Says:

    Mike was my friend. The killer got off. The defense claimed that it was self defense. I heard that the killer was related to a cop in Devonshire division… I’m not sure if it is true, but my source doesn’t have reason to lie.

    Self defense, they got in a fight, and came back with a gun…. BS.

  16. Jackie McDonough Says:

    Why would this guy be free? Eye witnesses and proof of intent to use a deadly weapon. I want to know how this could be re-tried? Dateline, something…

    Hopefully justice will come for Michael and his family.. Its hard to believe that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to the bad.

  17. peak Says:


  18. Vincent Says:

    a heavy heart interrupts a natural flow of words…because words are not adequate enough to express what i or anyone feels. I briefly knew you Mike..but the summer before you left us you were my best friend, my neighbor, my homie.. eventhough our friendship is minuscule in respect to your other friendships and family…one thing i have in common with anyone who has ever known you is the fact that you will be with me forever.. i can not count the times i made and continue to make decisions with you in mind. I think about you, your mom, your dad and sisters all of the time. Not to mention.. all of your friends, and their deep love reaction.
    We are all forever sad..and mad, but when we all step back and realize our own journey through life you provide comfort and further our belief that someone like you is not only given the breath of life to live, but was here on earth to impact the lives of others, like no other.
    In short my man, you are the realest. A true star, a class act, and an angel,.. that all of us our lucky to have looking over us.

  19. GABE Says:

    Today is the 6th yr since ive see or spoken to my beloved friend mike. I miss u soo much. U were taken from us on this dreaded day, but trust me brah, u always live with all ur friends and family as long as we’re alive. Mike was a gentle giant(like the guy above me said). I was eager to accept u as my brothter in law which was in bound to happen. ur the oly homie i know that would say ” I LOVE YOU., I LOVE U MAN.” I wish we were bulletprof. To protect u from these suckers that took you out. They killed u brah, but they can ever really kill u. Ur spirit is strong as ever like when we used to laugh, rap, and f around all day.In ending, nothing will ever replace a life, but you will always hold the love. Mike da kine…. thanks for showing love my bro!!!!! R.I.P.

  20. Dolores Kmetz Says:

    Wow, i just reading this now after soo many years not knowing, I knew mike and his 2 sisters and he was a great strong spirit, he was younger then i put we clicked playing riding skate boards, And now hes looking down on his family.. To the Sum that took him away may you burn you took A very special Man away!!!!! To the Domaloan Family Im sooooo sorry for your loss much love and respect to you!!!!


  21. jenny Says:

    soooo Celeste…just curious why didnt you ever finish this story????

  22. jenny Says:

    I really think actually i know theres a WHOLE other side that isnt mentioned in any of your stories at all… you missed alot of things that happened that night and didnt quit mentioned about ALOT of what witnesses saw. People are so quick to pass judgement just based on hear say. this is a VERY unfortunate story and again I know Murillo didnt go out that night having intentions on taking anyone’s life! again thats why Im saying theres alot more that you failed to mention in all your postings. and why didnt you ever finish your story????

  23. Celeste Fremon Says:

    MidEvil the Warlord, I deleted your comment because its pure swearing and shouting. You’re welcome to comment. But not like that. Thank you in advance for cooperating.

    Jenny, I read all of the testimony and the police reports three or four times. So I’m quite aware of what the neutral witnesses said about what happened that night.

    I will eventually finish this story. It certainly deserves it. Thanks for your comments.

  24. melissa Says:

    well im sure all the cruel evil people are happy that Mr. Murillo is and will never be around anymore. May he rest in peace.

  25. HoneyGirl Says:

    RIP Michael P. Domaloan

    Miss you so much!
    You will forever be in my heart!

    HEKTIK1 [[In Heaven's Kingdom]]

    <3 HoneyGirl

  26. HoneyGirl Says:

    I HOPE that Alejandro is REALLY DEAD!!!!!!


  27. melissa Says:

    @honey girl…..,wellllll i could stoop down to your immature level but as a ‘real’ woman i wont. and the only ones who will be rotting in hell are the ones that live their life as a bitter unhappy person. I knew Alejandro and you are no one to talk or wish anyone would rot in hell. Hope you will find peace in your life one day. May you go to god for that because you seem like a very bitter person….

  28. Eduardo Alcaraz Says:

    Michael and Felix were both good friends of mine. I miss them both very much. I would like to see Alejandro and do the same thing he did to my friends, it won’t bring my friends. I want Alejandro’s family to feel the same pain my friends family members and friends went through,I’m referring my self to his true friends. Johnny called himself a good friend, than why the fuck did he leave them there to die.This also goes for that black asshole who was there too. They call me Lefty, IHKLICK

  29. » Blog Archive » The Shooting: Part 1 Redux Says:

    [...] are some opening clips, with a link to the rest: Exactly five years ago today Karen Domaloan got the [...]

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