Teens Arrested for Shooting Dad in Front of His Son

Ryan Roth Markell ThomasA 41-year-old father who took his son with him when he responded to a Craigslist ad to buy a cellphone is dead, and his child saw the whole thing go down. Now, after a week of searching for Rene Balbuena's killer, cops have arrested two men they think are responsible for the so-called Craigslist murder, for shooting a dad in front of his son.

The two "men" are Ryan Roth, 17, and Markell Thomas, 18, and Thomas in particular has been linked to a string of armed robberies of innocent folks lured with similar Craigslist ads.


Yes, they're just teenagers, practically kids themselves. And get this. Barbuena's son, the poor kid who had to watch his dad gunned down over an ad for a cellphone that he found on Craigslist, is just 15.

Two years younger than one of his dad's alleged killers.

The proximity in age of the alleged killer and the victim is startling. I look to Barbuena's child with nothing but the utmost sympathy for what he's been through in part because no one should have to see something so horrible happen to a loved one but also because he's just a kid! He's a kid who lost a dad, a kid who lost a dad under tragic circumstances at that.

But Ryan Roth -- who's been charged as an adult -- and Markell Thomas, they're kids too. Kids who it would seem got mixed up in a gang. Kids who, if cops are right, became killers.

How quickly kids grow up.

How quickly the pendulum swings.

Barbuena's death at just 41 is a reminder in and of itself that life is fleeting. Now the arrest of his alleged murderers hits us over the head once again with that thought and with another: childhood is fleeting. They can go from kids to murderers. Just. Like. That.

What do you think should be done with these two teens?


Image via LAPD

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