Skip to content

Board extends reward in murder of Army veteran


Gunned down in Lancaster in 2020

The Board of Supervisors this week extended a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a man suspected of gunning down an Army veteran in Lancaster in 2020.

Oscar Palazuelos is wanted in the killing of Ismael Zabala, 26, who was fatally shot Dec. 20, 2020, while attending a family birthday party at a relative’s home, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“More than three years have passed since Ismael’s life was violently and unjustly ended,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement after the board’s vote to extend the reward offer. “It is unconscionable that he was murdered in front of his family. This case is unique because a suspect has been identified. I’m hopeful this reward will lead to someone stepping forward to provide a critical tip that will lead to an arrest. Ismael’s family is heartbroken and devastated. They deserve answers, justice, and closure.”

Sheriff’s officials said Palazuelos and another man had been invited to the party in the 400 block of West Avenue J-12 by another attendee, but the pair were eventually asked to leave, leading to an altercation at the front door in which Zabala and another victim were assaulted. Palazuelos then pulled out a gun and opened fire, striking Zabala and the other victim.

Zabala died, but the other victim, identified previously as Zabala’s brother Charlie, survived.

Zabala had served three years in the United States Army before receiving an honorable discharge.

“What we’re looking for is just some kind of justice,” his father Alex Zabala said at a 2021 news conference seeking public help in finding the suspect, who is believed to be in his early 20s.

“I would appreciate it if everybody that’s out there, if they know his whereabouts, can help us out and bring him in, so he can pay for his crimes ...” Alex Zabala said. “And the sooner we can get him in, the better. He’s out there, and what he did is not right.”

Palazuelos was described as 5-feet-9 inches tall and 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He should be considered armed and dangerous, according to the sheriff’s department.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Lt. Michael Gomez of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5554. Anonymous tips can be made through Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).