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Gunfight Erupts, Catches Girl, 2, in Fatal Cross Fire

Times Staff Writer

It is still unclear what prompted the fight Monday afternoon between the couple living in the Imperial Courts housing project on East 113th Street, or how they both ended up with guns, or who fired the fatal bullet.

But what is certain is that when the shooting stopped, 2-year-old Leanna Moore lay dying on a sidewalk.

Authorities described the shooting as another tragic case of an innocent bystander turned victim. Friends and relatives say they still cannot believe the girl they knew as so polite and playful is gone.

Those close to the couple described many violent arguments between the two.

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Janie Marie LeDay, 33, nine months pregnant with her fifth child, and her boyfriend, Walter Herron, 25, were booked Tuesday on suspicion of murder in the death of Leanna, who sheriff’s officials say was caught in the cross fire during a “running gun battle” between the couple.

The child, standing across the street from the housing project when the shooting occurred, suffered a gunshot wound in the head and was taken to Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center, where she later died.

The events leading up to the shooting are confused and sketchy. The incident started about 5 p.m. inside LeDay’s home in the housing project when she and Herron apparently began arguing, Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Salerno said. Both armed themselves and were standing near Mona Boulevard and East 113th Street, shooting at each other, when the child was hit, according to several witnesses.

Salerno said that eight to 10 shots were fired during the gun battle but it has not been determined who fired the fatal shot. The guns have not been recovered, he said.

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Angela Hartman, 21, a cousin of the dead girl, said Leanna and her mother, Carol Moore, had been visiting friends at an apartment in the 2400 block of East 113th Street. They celebrated Labor Day with dinner and were preparing to return home when the shooting occurred.

“We were standing on the sidewalk and Carol was trying to get Leanna so they could get into the car,” Hartman said. “A couple of minutes earlier Walter (Herron) had run by us towards the street. When we got to the sidewalk, the shooting started-- I could see Janie (LeDay) standing near the street shooting--and then Leanna was hit in the face.

“All of the little kids were running up and down the sidewalk, playing. Leanna loved to play with her cousins. She was so friendly. She was only 2 years old. What could she have done to deserve this?”

Several witnesses interviewed at the housing project, however, said LeDay remained in the apartment and could not have fired the shot that killed the girl.

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One of them, Queen Bowen, 37, who lives in an apartment across from LeDay’s, said she heard the argument between the couple, heard Herron shout names at LeDay and heard the initial shot she said LeDay fired at Herron as he fled the home through a back door.

Bowen said she entered LeDay’s home from the front door immediately after Herron left and stayed with LeDay inside until police arrived. During that time Herron returned to the building and fired several shots at LeDay, Bowen said.

Bowen said the couple had fought often and that LeDay feared Herron. She said neighbors figured it was only a matter of time before someone got hurt.

“It’s a tragedy what happened to that little girl,” Bowen said. “But Janie was a nice person. She wasn’t violent, unless you messed with her kids. She felt really bad that people were saying she was the cause of the little girl being killed cause she loved her own kids so much.”

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LeDay, who was arrested at the scene, and Herron, who turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning, were booked at the Lynwood Sheriff’s Station and are being held without bail.


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