A former South Bay high school football star was shot and killed Thursday morning, and a suspect was arrested after a three-hour, house-to-house search in Lawndale.
Mike Reddington, 24, was shot in the head with a handgun at an apartment in the 2000 block of Vanderbilt Lane in Redondo Beach about 2:30 a.m. Police declined to release the name of the victim in the case, but Reddington’s brother-in-law, Martin Anderson of Hawthorne, confirmed that it was Reddington.
Reddington was the most celebrated football player in the South Bay when he was a senior at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, but he later fell victim to drug and alcohol-related problems. He also served a prison term in 1990 for grand theft.
Anderson said Reddington was shot at the apartment of a woman he had been dating for two months. Police identified the suspect as Charles Holt, 25, the woman’s former boyfriend. The woman, whom police would not identify, was not injured, police said. Authorities said Holt is being held on suspicion of murder.
Anderson said he and Reddington knew the suspect when they were growing up in Lawndale.
Acting on a tip that Holt was in Lawndale, Redondo Beach undercover police officers staked out a Lawndale neighborhood Thursday morning, a police spokesman said. About 9:15 a.m. one of the officers took a break and walked into the Brolly Hut restaurant on Hawthorne Boulevard near 170th Street to get something to eat and saw Holt in the restaurant having breakfast.
Holt ran out of the restaurant with the officer in pursuit. Witnesses said a shot was fired, but police said the shot was an accidental discharge of the undercover officer’s weapon. No one was injured, police said.
Holt eluded the officer, who summoned help to cordon off a one-block area bounded by Hawthorne Boulevard, Grevillea Avenue and 169th and 170th streets, a residential area of apartments and small single-family houses.
While a sheriff’s department helicopter circled above, and scores of onlookers watched from behind police barriers and parked police sedans, officers went from house to house, knocking on doors and advising residents to stay inside. About 35 officers and deputies from Redondo Beach and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department participated in the search. Meanwhile, three police dogs were brought in to assist in the search.
After almost three hours of searching, the suspect had not been found, and officers at the command post nearby seemed ready to give up. Then at 12:07 p.m. Redondo officer Ken Greenleaf and his dog Boris, a 9-year-old German shepherd, checked under a house in the 4400 block of 169th Street that had earlier been checked by another police dog.
“As soon as he (Boris) put his nose under the house I knew he had something,” Greenleaf said. “So I looked under there and there he (the suspect) was. He said, ‘I’m coming out, I don’t have a gun.’ He was very cooperative.”
Greenleaf said no weapon was found on the suspect or in the two-foot-high crawl space under the house. Although he did not question the suspect, Greenleaf said that after he was captured Holt said, “It was an accident,” but did not elaborate on his statement.
The woman living in the house under which the suspect was hiding, Barbara Gray, was unaware that he was there, Greenleaf said.
Gray said she was “not scared at all” about having a murder suspect under her house, but she was angry at the officers for “yelling” at her to stay inside.
Lt. Jeff Cameron of the Redondo Beach police said Holt will be arraigned on murder charges today or Monday.
As a senior at Leuzinger, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Reddington led the Olympians to the 1985 Southern Section Desert-Mountain Conference title and was recognized as the player of the year in the area and in his conference.
“He was the best I ever had,” Leuzinger Coach Steve Carnes told The Times in an interview two years ago. “I had some good ones who were comparable, but as far as doing it all and the ability to affect a game, Mike was definitely the best.”
In the summer of 1986, Reddington started at quarterback in the West Torrance Lions All-Star Game and helped lead his squad to victory, passing for one touchdown and running for another.
That was Reddington’s last game. He had developed drug and alcohol problems in high school, which worsened after he graduated. He made several attempts to play football at El Camino College, but each time he dropped out of school.
Reddington also got in trouble with the law. In 1990 he served six months for grand theft at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe.
In a 1991 interview with The Times about the troubled course his life had taken since the glory days at Leuzinger, he said, “I’m not proud of what I did, but I did it and there’s nothing I can do to change it now. All I can do is get on with my life and pray for the best.”
In the same interview, as he reflected on the life he had led since high school, Reddington said, “I’m surprised I’m still alive.”
Anderson said his brother-in-law had spent the past two years working at odd jobs as a carpenter and looking for steady employment.
“He was just beginning to straighten out his life,” Anderson said, adding that although Reddington was still drinking he had stopped using drugs. “It was drugs that ruined his life. He could have done anything, been anything, but the drugs got to him.”
Reddington is survived by his parents, Joe and Dottie Reddington of Redondo Beach, and by a sister and brother. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, Anderson said.