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Educator’s Slaying Baffles Police

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Over the last four months, two police agencies and 14 investigators have examined every inch of Gary Beverly’s life and found nothing suspicious.

No bitter neighbors. No alienated friends. No disgruntled students. No old secrets. No new grudges. Nothing that might explain who shot the beloved Lynwood school administrator June 28 as he drove in heavy traffic on a Gardena Freeway offramp in Compton.

“We have very little to go on,” said Lt. Tom Martin of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide unit, as he stood on that offramp Thursday morning. He and two equally stumped detectives pleaded with the public for any information that might solve the case.

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“We have found absolutely no one that had an ax to grind,” Martin said. “That’s one of the most perplexing things about this.”

The mystery has captured the imagination of Compton’s citizens, who are sadly familiar with the details of violent crime. And the bold, daytime murder of Beverly--by all accounts an innocent victim--has spawned dozens of theories but no leads.

“The whole town is still talking about it,” said Lorraine Cervantes, a longtime Compton community activist. “The lack of information is feeding it.”

Born and raised in Compton, Beverly, who would have turned 40 last month, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal State Dominguez Hills before getting on the administrative fast track in the school system in neighboring Lynwood. He was the popular principal at Lynwood High from 1995 until January, when he was promoted to director of school services and special education for the 16,000-student district.

About 4:45 p.m. on June 28, Beverly was driving alone on his usual route home to Carson and Kimberly, his wife of 12 years, and their three children--Troy, 11; Tori, 8; and Tyler, 2. As he pulled onto the Wilmington offramp in westbound traffic, another car pulled to the left of his burgundy 1996 Chrysler Sebring. An unknown gunman killed the administrator with two shots to the upper torso.

Two detectives from the Compton Police Department investigated the case until Aug. 16, when the city shut down the department and contracted with the sheriff. The Beverly murder was among two dozen open cases given to the sheriff’s homicide unit, which is reinvestigating each one. Now, said Martin, a dozen detectives are working the Beverly case.

But they have yet to answer basic questions about the shooting. They do not know the color or make of the car driven by the gunman. They have found no eyewitnesses to the shooting, established no motive and made no identification of the handgun used.

“That’s why we are asking the public for help,” Martin said. “We believe someone on that crowded freeway must have seen what occurred.”

The lack of clues has frustrated Beverly’s family. “I’m sure the detectives are doing their best,” said Beverly’s mother, Florence, a retired pastry cook who lives in Compton. “I believe people are scared to come forward--it scares me a little just to talk about it. But I wish that someone would say what they know.”

To help the search, Det. David Carver put up signs Thursday on both sides of the offramp. They show a photograph of a smiling, mustachioed Beverly and ask anyone with information on the slaying to call Carver or Det. Mike Bumcrot at (323) 890-5500.


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