Club Co-Founder, a Drive-By Victim, Dies of Wounds

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 21-year-old vice president of a San Fernando Valley customized pickup truck club that openly shuns gang activities died Thursday of wounds he suffered in a drive-by shooting attack on club members.

The shooting occurred about 7:30 Wednesday night as Clinton Shane Peterson of Sun Valley was standing with his fiancee and about 20 other members of the Nebula Mini Truck Club at Brand Park in Mission Hills. A car drove by slowly on Noble Avenue and a passenger fired three times into the crowd, Los Angeles police said.

Peterson, who co-founded the club two years ago for owners of customized pickup trucks, was struck once in the stomach. He was taken to Holy Cross Medical Center, where he died after surgery about 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

No arrests were made and police were looking for the white and Burgundy Monte Carlo Chevrolet that was used in the shooting. The car contained three young men and a woman, police said.

Police and Nebula club members were hard-pressed to find a reason for the shooting. Detectives said Peterson, who was known by his middle name, was not a gang member and the club had no record of trouble with police. The group had met at Brand Park on Wednesday nights for more than a year without incident, club members said.

"Crazy, huh?" Detective Stephen Fisk said. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Detective Al Ferrand said it is believed the suspects might be gang members because of the method used in the shooting. He said there were few clues to their identities.

All day Thursday, club members gathered at the Burbank residence of Nebula President Chris Caples, who co-founded the club with Peterson. Caples said each member was aware of the grim irony that Peterson, who organized the club with rules against gang activity, might have been slain by a gang member.

"This is hard to believe," Caples said. "We never had any problems before. We are a mellow club. We are all in it for the trucks and the shows, nothing to do with gangs."

Caples, 22, said that when he and Peterson wrote the club's bylaws two years ago, the first rule was: "We are not associated or affiliated in any way, shape or form with any gangs."

Club member Cliff Anger, 18, said, "We despise gangs. We have very strict rules about that. That's why this is so hard to figure out."

Peterson, who lived at home with his family and who worked as a pest exterminator, owned a customized white Toyota pickup that was considered to be one of the most stylized trucks in the club. Across the rear windshield is printed the club's name.

Club members said Peterson was standing by his truck when he was shot.

Because the shooting was unexpected, members said few of them ducked or ran for cover.

"We thought it was a joke at first," Anger said. "Shane and I were the only ones who hit the ground. When he got up, he was holding his hand over his stomach and he said, 'Take me to the hospital, I'm shot.' His girlfriend said quit joking around, so then he took his hand away and you could see the blood."

Times staff writers Aaron Curtiss and Tim Waters contributed to this report.

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