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Tagger, 17, Sought in 2 Killings

A 17-year-old member of a teen-age graffiti tagging crew was identified Tuesday by Los Angeles police as the prime suspect in two killings and two attempted murders.

Police said they are seeking David Askew--whose spray-paint-wielding clique goes by the initials “W.D.C” for “We Don’t Care"--in the four attacks, which occurred over the last four months. The crimes include the murder of a 70-year-old Los Angeles man who was gunned down at his front door.

“David, . . . we’re asking you to do the right thing and turn yourself in,” said Deputy Police Chief Mark Kroeker. The crime spree, Kroeker said at a news conference, “has gone beyond the vandalism taggers normally do and has moved into a string of violence.”

Ordinarily, authorities withhold the names of juveniles accused of crimes. However, a judge permitted the release of Askew’s name and photograph because of the number and severity of the crimes involved.

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Askew and his family had lived near 50th and South Hoover streets and had owned a mini-mart in the neighborhood, but they recently sold the business and moved, authorities said.

Typically, taggers do not engage in violence. But Detectives Russell Poole and Carlos Velasquez said they believe Askew and his group were seeking more than the simple notoriety of a scrawled nickname.

Detectives said the first of the four attacks occurred Nov. 12 when a South-Central man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in the 5300 block of South Normandie Avenue. The man, who is recovering, told police that Askew shot him, detectives said.

The second incident came less than a week later, on Nov. 18, when Robert Hamilton Jr., 70, was robbed on the way home, police said. Hamilton, they said, had just been to the bank and withdrawn a large amount of cash when he was confronted by two men who robbed him at his front door.

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Hamilton’s daughter, Rosalind Parks, 30, said she, her husband and her two children, ages 11 and 3, were inside at the time of the robbery. They did not know what was happening, she said, until they heard the gunfire.

On his deathbed, her father told her that one of the robbers--identified by witnesses as Askew--had demanded to be let into the house, Parks said. When Hamilton refused, she said, he was shot. He died Feb. 15 at a hospital.

The third attack occurred Feb. 11 in Askew’s home, authorities said. In the midst of an argument, Michael Harris, 28, was shot to death. Later, a witness to the killing also was shot but survived to identify Askew, police said. That man is on a life-support system.

Anyone with information about Askew’s whereabouts is asked to contact the South Bureau homicide division at (213) 237-1310.

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