2 Students Shot While Waiting for School Bus

Times Staff Writer

Two Reseda High School students were critically wounded in a gang-related shooting Friday morning in the Pico-Union area as they waited for their bus near an elementary school where children were playing and eating breakfast, police said.

Los Angeles Police Detective Richard Fox said the boys, ages 15 and 17, were shot with a small-caliber handgun during a fight with two members of a rival gang.

Fox said the youths were waiting for their bus at about 7 a.m. at 11th Street and Union Avenue when the two other youths waled up, yelled their gang name and began throwing bottles.

One of the suspects pulled a handgun and fired at the victims, hitting the 15-year-old in the back and the 17-year-old in the left side, authorities said. Based on sketchy descriptions, police launched a hunt for the assailants who fled on foot.

Adelaida De La Cerda, spokeswoman for County-USC Medical Center, said both wounded youths were in serious but stable condition.

The shootings occurred in front of a youth recreation center and across the street from the 10th Street, Elementary School playground, where about 50 children were waiting for classes to start.

"We were just lucky no other children were shot," said Edward Hill, director of the recreation center, as a worker hosed blood stains from the sidewalk. "I am just sorry the kids have to be exposed to stuff like this and that they will grow up thinking the world isn't safe.

Bus Collection Point

Los Angeles Unified School District spokesman Don Coleman said the location is a "collection point" for about 40 students in the district's busing program.

In an effort to protect the elementary school students as well as those who wait for school buses, a school police officer will be assigned to the area in the mornings and afternoons, said Diana Johnston, principal of 10th Street Elementary School.

"The officer will patrol the area each morning and afternoon until they determine that it is safer," she said. Johnston added, however, that she is "not afraid of coming to school on Monday."

Coleman said Friday was the first time students have been shot at a bus stop this year and that the district does not intend to increase security at other bus stops. Nor, he said, does it intend to follow the example of Long Beach school officials who are building a 10-foot-high concrete wall around a junior high school to protect students from gunfire.

"At this point, we see no need to take such measures," Coleman said.

Carmen Olivas, an elderly woman who lives near the scene of the shooting, felt differently.

"I see these boys fighting around here all the time," she said in Spanish. "Sooner or later I knew someone was going to get shot. It will only get worse because now the gangs will try to get revenge."

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