A 25-year-old woman was killed and 10 young men were wounded Saturday morning during a furious hail of gunfire among suspected gang members who turned a normally quiet Firestone district street into a war zone.
The dead woman was identified as Madeline Lorenzo of Huntington Park. She was hit in the chest and arm by stray bullets when the gunfire broke out about 12:30 a.m. in front of a party site in the 8900 block of Fir Avenue in the unincorporated area north of Watts, according to sheriff’s deputies. She died at the scene.
Deputies said two of the suspected gang members were hospitalized in serious condition with gunshot wounds and eight others were treated and released.
The shooting erupted when several cars containing suspected gang members pulled up in front of the party, which had attracted about 200 people, and fired at rivals standing in the street, deputies said. The wounded young men, whose names were not released, are all between the ages of 17 and 21. There were no arrests.
Deputies said few of the party-goers were gang members, but residents disagreed, saying the event was a gang affair.
Witnesses said the gunplay lasted up to 20 minutes and sent residents of the ordinarily peaceful, tree-lined street rushing inside their houses for cover and diving out of their beds onto the floor.
Car windshields were shattered or cracked by bullets and at least one tire was blown out by gunfire.
Terrified residents spoke for the most part on the condition that they not be identified.
“They kept shooting until the bullets ran out,” said one woman who watched the battle out her front window.
She said young men hid behind cars and exchanged gunfire with those at the party on the other side of the street.
When the fatally wounded woman fell to the street, she was surrounded by people who screamed that she had been hit, the witness said. But the bullets kept flying.
The onlooker said a young man hit by gunfire was picked up by another gunman, who threw his wounded comrade over his shoulder and disappeared into a back yard.
“It’s scary,” she said. “Now I’m afraid to walk outside.”
Another neighbor, who on Saturday afternoon was repairing a car tire blown out by bullets, said that during the gunfire, “My whole family was on the floor.”
An elderly woman who lives nearby said she was asleep when the shooting broke out.
“I was trying to take cover,” she said. “I was afraid it might come in my house, so I hit the floor.”
Residents of the area said that Fir Avenue has been relatively safe, but that there is occasional gunfire on nearby streets and that the neighborhood has been deteriorating.
The party began about 6 p.m. and was still going strong after midnight when the shooting started, neighbors said. Young people, mostly teen-agers, were drinking 40-ounce bottles of beer and milling around in the front yard and street, they said.
The front yard was still littered with beer cans and bottles Saturday afternoon, and the residents of the house refused to talk to a reporter.