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$50,000 Offered to Help Solve Bizarre Case of a Hiker Who Was Killed By a Sniper While Hiking Near Highland Park   

10:46 AM PST on December 27, 2021

Ernest E. Debs Park is a popular nature reserve and park in Montecito Heights enjoyed by both transplant and OG Angelenos, birdwatchers, and nature lovers who want to take in a little wilderness and reflection with their city vistas and live oak groves. But a bizarre and tragic murder of a tourist this past fall betrays the park’s beauty, planting a newfound fear to anyone who is looking to appreciate its 282 acres of serenity in the middle of NELA.

On the afternoon of September 10, 2021, 29-year-old photographer Jason Jose Cortez Nativi, a visitor from Virginia, staying in L.A. for a work project, was reportedly shot and killed while walking on a trail at Debs. A witness claims Nativi was the victim of a sniper’s bullet, alleging on the day of the killing that they saw a man fire a single shot while hiding in the bushes about 75-to-100-feet away.

Nativi’s family cannot begin to imagine a motive. Authorities are struggling to locate additional leads. The existing observer to the crime claims the killer appeared to be a Hispanic male in his 20s or 30s standing just under six feet tall in a light blue hoodie, with a sketch found on ABC News suggesting this guy and his glacial stare.

Noting that Nativi had no criminal affiliations, enemies, or rivals in a city he was visiting, LAPD homicide detective Alex Abundis told KNX, “It’s something that I can’t explain and that’s the reason why I’m asking for help.”

That help appeared to arrive in a news conference led by Gil Cedillo earlier this month, in which L.A. City Council announced that it is currently offering a reward of $50,000 to help solve the killing of the Virginia newlywed, asking for tips to the CrimeStoppers website or hotline, or directly to Abundis’ desk.

Nativi’s grieving wife, Corina Soloranzo, said during the announcement, “This was supposed to be our first Christmas and New Year’s together as a married couple. But now it’s the first I’ll celebrate without him in seven years. Jason’s family and I are desperate for answers, and we need your help.”

A website set up to celebrate Jason’s life recalls the Maryland-born photographer and podcast enthusiast’s “bright light,” laugh, passion for guitar and film, and devotion to the Hispanic Student Association and Aguilas Mentoring Program at George Mason University. Nativi’s life and the crime behind his all-too-early passing is also recounted on the Gun Memorial website for those lost to gun violence.

When it comes to an instantaneous death, there are few things more chilling than an indiscriminate bullet, whether fired from the rifle of an unidentified sniper among a picturesque escape from the city or the pistol of an overzealous cop in a Burlington Coat Factory.

With a husband, son, friend, and visitor to our city tragically slain amid a peaceful retreat enjoyed daily by so many in the L.A. community, one must wonder if there’s a homicidal sniper out there somewhere looking to up his body count, potentially laying in wait among one of our many urban paradises. And where they might strike next.

In the meantime, here's hoping there’s justice for Jason and his loved ones.

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