Reality TV writer and director James Marcus Howe and his wife were inside their Glassell Park home when a salesman knocked on the door.
It was the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Within minutes, Howe was dead and his wife seriously wounded.
When Howe and his wife approached the front door, they saw only the man alone. Within seconds, another man and a woman forced their way inside, police said.
As an ensuing altercation quickly escalated, one of the men pulled out a handgun. A barrage of bullets flew just inside the doorway of the home the couple shared with their 6-year-old son, investigators said.
Howe died at the scene, and his wife was rushed to the hospital, seriously wounded. She survived.
"The victims were completely innocent. There is nothing to connect them with the assailants," said LAPD Deputy Chief Jose Perez.
On Thursday, the drapes were drawn on every window of the house on the 4400 block of West Avenue 42.
It is the kind of neighborhood where residents walk their dogs daily. "Outside shoes" of men, women and children are stacked on the front porches of nearby homes. The street gets noisy when hundreds of children swarm the area, which borders Eagle Rock, on Halloween, Marsha Maynard said.
Now, she thinks of the shooting the day before Thanksgiving that left Howe's 6-year-old son fatherless. Maynard said she did not know the couple, but described them as friendly when they introduced themselves after moving into the area.
Although the shooting has not changed her routine, she wants answers.
"As a neighborhood, we want to know she's OK and the boy (is OK)," Maynard said of Howe's wife and son. "(What happened) is silly and stupid. It affects too many people."
Perez said the shooting was by all accounts random with no obvious motive. Howe, 42, had worked on numerous reality television shows.
With a history of racial violence by Latino Avenues gang members against black in a nearby area, the Los Angeles Police Department was quick to eliminate a racial motive for the shootings. Howe was African American.
Witnesses described the suspects as two black males and a black female, Perez said. The man who pretended to be a solicitor was described as 16 to 22 years old; the gunman as 20 to 25 years old. No estimated age was given on the female, according to police.
Howe and his wife began renting the home several months before the shooting. The Glassell Park neighborhood in the last six months has had 21 violent crimes and 167 property crimes.
Perez said witnesses saw the suspects flee in a dark Mustang. Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (323) 344-5731.
[For the record, Dec. 6, 7:57 a.m. PST: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the street on which the shooting took place was West Avenue.]
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