#minorsextrafficking | Relatives of man killed in front of 7-year-old son are in disbelief • Long Beach Post News

Maseuli, who lived just over an hour away in Palmdale, always made the effort to spend time with his son, who stays in Long Beach with his mother, according to relatives.

“Leevi was truly a family man,” his younger sister Shalia Maseuli said. “His family, his children, his friends, they meant everything to him.”

As the sun was setting Sunday afternoon, Leevi left the park with his son, planning on going to Jack in the Box before heading home. He wouldn’t make it. Soon, the boy’s mother received a call from police officers. They had found Leevi’s crashed car at around 8:46 p.m. at Anaheim Street and Roswell Avenue.

Inside the vehicle, Leevi was suffering from a single gunshot wound to the upper body, according to the Long Beach Department. The boy had also been in the car. He wasn’t struck by gunfire but suffered minor injuries.

They were both transported to a local hospital where Leevi would be pronounced dead just before midnight.

“It doesn’t feel real. My brother was murdered in front of his 7-year-old son,” Shalia said. “We want answers. We want to know who did this to my brother and why.”

A memorial in the area of East Anaheim Street and Roswell Avenue following the shooting of 30-year-old Leevi Maseuli. Photo by Laura Anaya-Morga

Police have not identified a suspect or determined a motive for the shooting, and investigators have not said if they believe it was gang-related or tied at all to Leevi’s past, which includes several criminal convictions and stretches in prison.

Regardless of Leevi’s past conflicts with authorities—who once called him a dangerous gang member—LBPD Chief Wally Hebeish has denounced the slaying as a “callous act of violence,” one that “will not go unanswered.”

A Long Beach native, Leevi was the son of a Samoan big-rig driver and Canadian pharmaceutical representative who were Washington Middle School sweethearts. They married and started their family right out of high school with the birth of Leevi, their eldest son.

Leevi grew up on Lime Avenue near Poly High School. He went to classes at Stanford Middle School and Cabrillo High School where he made most of his childhood friends, Shalia said.

But in August 2006, when Leevi was 14, he and one of his best friends, Leonel Gonzalez met in an alleyway with a group of other friends to discuss the issue of a missing bicycle.

The teenager who allegedly stole the bike became confrontational and started a fight. When he lost the fight, he refused to shake hands and angrily told Leevi and his friends: “I’m going to blow you [expletives] up,” according to court papers.

As the kids were walking home following the fight, a man carrying a gun approached them, saying: “Why you all jump my homies” before yelling out the name of a local gang, according to court documents. At least six gunshots rang out, and moments later, Leevi found 14-year-old Gonzalez on the ground bleeding.

“They were just kids,” Shalia said.

Police said Kun Lyna Chan Tauch, who was 18 years old at the time, was the gunman responsible for killing Gonzalez and shooting at Leevi and his friends. Chan Tauch, now 34, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2009 and sentenced to 50 years to life at Pelican Bay State Prison.

As the neighborhood where they chose to start their family changed, Leevi’s family decided it was time to get away from Long Beach, moving to Lakewood in 2008.

Leevi Maseuli, 30, was shot on Father’s Day in front of his 7-year-old son. Leevi would be pronounced dead hours later at a hospital. Photo courtesy of Shalia Maseuli.

Two years later, an 18-year-old Leevi and a co-conspirator were arrested on suspicion of burglary. They both pleaded no contest to the charges and were subsequently sentenced to two years in state prison. In October 2012, Leevi once again faced legal troubles after being arrested for possession of a firearm and ammunition.

After about a month in court, Leevi pleaded no contest to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to two years in state prison.

“Leevi may have had a past, but that’s not the person I know,” Shalia said. “It’s not the amazing man we all know him as.”

By March 2015, he was once again under investigation by the LBPD, which called him a documented gang member. According to the LBPD, Leevi was known in the streets by the monikers “Weezy” and “Lil Beast.”

He was arrested near his Long Beach home on May 21 on suspicion of human trafficking after a woman showed up to court badly beaten and accused him of forcing her to have sex for money.

“If she did not make $500 a day, she was severely punished,” the LBPD said in 2015. “Maseuli beat her, cut her with a knife, and threatened to kill her as a means to keep her trapped in a life of human trafficking.”

At the time of Leevi’s arrest, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert called him “one of the more dangerous gang members responsible for this brutal crime.”

But his family, who has since moved to Palmdale, maintain that Leevi was neither a gang member nor someone capable of causing harm to another.

“All I’ve ever known of him was love,” according to Shalia. “He took care of people he loved. He helped people that wouldn’t do the same for him.”

Charges against Leevi of human trafficking for purposes of pimping and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury were eventually dismissed, but he was convicted of pandering and assault with a deadly weapon.

After his release from prison (an exact date was not immediately available), he started a consulting firm called Smoove Enterprises in 2021, and according to his sister, he was buying properties, fixing them up and then renting them out.

He’d spend most of his free time with his 1-year-old daughter, or in Long Beach with his 7-year-old son, who Shalia said looks just like his father. He often took the kids to water parks and bowling nights where he shined, his family said.

“He gave without expecting anything in return,” said Shalia, who remembers her older brother working on a vehicle to join a car club. “He was a father figure in children’s lives as well.”

On Sunday, Shalia texted Leevi a video she’d made of him with their father and her partner spending time with the children.

She texted, “Happy Father’s Day, I love you.”

He replied “thank you, I love you too,” Shalia said. “And that was the last time I heard from him.”

According to his family, Leevi was working on a vehicle project to join a car club before his death. Photo courtesy of Shalia Maseuli.

At 2 a.m. Monday, Leevi’s family received the call confirming he was dead.

“My dad said it still hasn’t hit him,” Shalia said. “My mom, she’s completely in pieces.”

Leevi’s son was reunited with his mother after being treated for minor injuries. But the Maseulis are furious that someone would put a 7-year-old through the traumatic event of watching his father be shot.

“He’s so brave, but he’s also so sad,” Shalia said. “His dad is gone.”

A day after the shooting, a small memorial popped up in the area. Flowers, candles, beer and sports team hats with an “S” logo, often representing the gang Sons of Samoa Crips, decorated a small patch of grass in front of a building.

“He’ll be remembered through our memories,” Shalia said. “We’ll continue to share them with his children. We’ll tell them how amazing and loving their father was … and how he took care of the people he loved.”

A GoFundMe page his family has set up to cover his funeral expenses has raised $7,660 of the $10,000 goal as of Wednesday.

Man shot to death in front of 7-year-old son on Father’s Day, Long Beach police say

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