Fredrick Martin Jr. of Inglewood was cleaning the garage at his grandmother's Inglewood home Tuesday evening with his son Fredrick "Tre" Martin III and his son's godfather, Joseph Hickman, when they heard gunfire.
Martin shoved his son to the ground and protected him as the bullets flew. The father, hit in the torso and abdomen, died in surgery that night.
Gary Lee, a cousin of Martin, said the boy told him the night of the shooting, "My dad saved me."
The boy, the Los Angeles Times reported, received only a minor wound.
"He did what a father is supposed to do," Micharri Pratts said of her half-brother Saturday. "He made sure his son was always surrounded by love and support."
City police told the newspaper they were looking for two shooters.
"It appears random," Melanie Miller, Martin's aunt, said. "He didn't live that type of lifestyle, didn't wear the clothes, didn't want to be part of it at all."
A friend, Jaaye Person-Lynn, said gang members may have targeted Martin by mistake.
Acting Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said there was no evidence Martin, an analyst with Kaiser Permanente, was involved in a gang.
"Our understanding is that this was a fine young man," the chief said.
Tre is Martin's son from an earlier relationship. Martin was married last fall and his wife, Amanda Grant, is expecting, the Times said.