Death in a Doorway : Woman in Wheelchair Is Latest Victim of Gang Wars
Donald Shepherd stood on the front lawn of his family’s Southwest Los Angeles home Wednesday morning showing his bandaged gunshot wound to neighborhood friends and wondering when, and how, the Denver Lane Bloods might strike again.
In a gang-related killing the night before, a drive-by shooter took the life of Shepherd’s grandmother, Alma Lee Washington, when one of six shots went astray. The 67-year-old woman was killed as she sat in her wheelchair inside the front door of the weathered two-bedroom home.
Shepherd was standing just about where he had been Tuesday night--the eve of his 20th birthday--when the white Oldsmobile Cutlass accelerated up the 1000 block of 121st Street around 7 o’clock. Shepherd sensed something was wrong and headed for the door just as the gunman began firing out of the sunroof.
Shepherd hit the ground with a bullet in the shoulder. One bullet sailed through the door jam, striking Washington in the right eye and lodging in the back of her head.
“He must have figured I’d get up and head for the door because he kept firing at the doorway,” said Shepherd, who sports the tattooed initials of the Raymond Avenue Crips gang across the knuckles of his left hand.
The doorway was where Washington often sat. It was a window on the world for the housebound stroke victim, who was paralyzed on the right side of her body.
Within seconds the bloody terror was over.
But authorities said it will likely kick off a new round of revenge killings in the escalating gang wars of South Los Angeles.
“There will be another retaliation; no question about it,” said community organizer Leon Watkins of Family Help-line Youth Gang Services.
“It’s complete war down here,” said Los Angeles Police Department Homicide Detective Pat Marshall.
In fact, within two hours of the drive-by shooting, an attack was launched a few blocks away on the home where Washington’s suspected killer, Darrell Lamant Moore, had once lived.
Moore, 19, was arrested several hours after the slaying and booked on suspicion of murder. He initially gave his name as Michael McGreggor--the name of a cousin--and it was at the McGreggor home that the next shooting erupted later Tuesday night, with the attackers striking the house and a vehicle but causing no injuries, according to police.
The attack on Shepherd was believed to have been in retaliation for the shooting of yet another suspected gang member--Wilson Wood--on Monday night, according to police and gang members.
Moore’s mother, who fears retaliation and asked that her full name not be used, said she spoke with her son Tuesday morning after not hearing from him for several months. She said she had asked her son to leave home last year “because of this gang situation.”
“I had not heard from him till yesterday (Tuesday) morning,” she said. “He said his friend had been shot--Wilson Wood. At the time he called he was talking low. He was concerned and upset.”
Shepherd, the Raymond Avenue Crip, said he knew of the Wood shooting at 118th Street and Figueroa Avenue and he knew of Moore. “They call him ‘Scrap,’ right?” “Scrap” is the street name that Moore’s family said he used over the years.
But Shepherd shrugged off revenge as the motive for the attack on him and his grandmother. Instead, he blamed it simply on “young guys trying to make a reputation.”
Warfare erupted between the Denver Bloods and the Raymond Avenue Crips about six months ago, when one Blood member’s family moved into Crips territory, according to Watkins, who tracks gang activities in the area. In that time, he said, at least four killings and many shootings have ensued.
“There’s a lot of cross-offs,” said Watkins, pointing to the gang graffiti on neighborhood homes that had been painted over by rivals. “That tells you someone is going to get shot.”
Moore himself may have been an intended victim, according to family members. They said police indicated that Wood may have been killed by mistake by gang members seeking Moore.
The Tuesday night attack on the McGreggor home was the second in the past year, said Joe McGreggor, half-brother to Moore.
“We wouldn’t let him come here. We didn’t want his car here because of his gang” affiliation, McGreggor said.
But he would often park his cars near the McGreggor home “just to aggravate us,” McGreggor said. “I sold him a ’77 Cutlass, and two weeks later he came back with bullet holes in it.”
“We tried to help him,” said another of Moore’s siblings, who asked to remain anonymous. “But he decided what kind of life he wanted to lead.” After that, “we wanted to put up a billboard saying he doesn’t live here anymore” so they could avoid future attack.
‘Cops Know Where I Am’
Shepherd said he would not try to seek revenge. “I won’t do anything; the cops know where I am.” And he said, “I don’t know if my buddies will try.”
But, he said, “if I did have a gun, I wouldn’t shoot at the front of a house.” That’s the work of a coward, he said. “My brother told ‘em before, ‘My aunty’s in a wheelchair.’ ”
Now, the family is waiting for the coroner to complete his investigation so that funeral arrangements can be made.
George Oakes, a nephew of Washington, said the family “used to barbecue on the driveway and toe tap on the lawn. . . . Now we can’t do anything like that.”
As for Shepherd, he said he will start looking for a job again. He lost his last job at McDonnell Douglas Corp. after the first of two arrests--one for throwing a bottle at a police officer and one for drug possession--he said.
And just in case the revenge of the Bloods has not been satisfied, Shepherd said, “I’ll try to move now. . . . They know I stay here.”