Wrong Victims Shot, Police Say : Apparent Retaliation Attack Kills Boy, Mother

Times Staff Writer

A 16-year-old boy who wanted to improve his life by becoming an actor was killed with his mother in their South-Central Los Angeles home when two gunmen came to retaliate for a weekend slaying they believed was done by his brother, police said Thursday.

Detectives at 77th Street Division said they do not think the intruders meant to kill David Ross and Bessie Mae Ross, 54, in the house at 1351 W. 51st St. late Wednesday night.

But Mrs. Ross answered a knock at the door and was shot as the pair opened fire. She died at a nearby hospital. Her son, who was standing behind her in the living room, was killed on the spot.

After consulting with the South Bureau Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) anti-gang unit, Detective Paul Mize said that the killings appeared to have been done by members of a gang who wanted to murder another Ross son, Tommy, 19.

The “word on the street,” Mize said, was that Tommy was suspected of being the gunman who last Saturday killed Stanford Bursey, 24, in a liquor store parking lot at 1355 W. Florence Ave.


Tommy Ross was not at home about 10 p.m. Wednesday when the presumed avenging members of a rival gang showed up. Nor did police know where he was Thursday.

“I think he’s worried about retaliation,” Mize said. “We just want to stop this thing before it becomes a war,” the detective added.

The dead boy’s father, Robert Ross, 71, a retired minister and barber, was attending church Wednesday night. Another son, Leamon, 25, reportedly was out of the room when the shooting occurred.

Boy’s Agent Stunned

Hollywood talent agent Doris Ross, no relation to the family, was stunned Thursday by the news of David’s death. She said he wanted to be an actor and had sought her out because she had the same last name and “he thought we could work well together.”

He was, she remembered, “a very determined young lad. He seemed to have a lot of potential. He was a type of kid who was trying to better himself. There was such determination in his eyes.”

But, she said, he was with her only a short time at Associated Talent before that agency shut its juvenile department. There was not enough time to launch his career. She said that, although he went on one reading and there was a good report on him, “he just didn’t have the credits for that big a part.”

The agent, now with Joseph Heldfond & Ricks, remembered: “He was better than a lot of adult clients. He never went away from the phone. He definitely had talent.”