A spate of violence in South and Southeast Los Angeles since Sunday has left two men dead and 19 wounded in what police say are unrelated incidents.
Police said most of the attacks were gang-related, but they are not calling the outbreak a gang war. Except for two shootings Sunday night between rival gang members, police said there were no connections among the incidents.
Though authorities do not know what set off the 14 separate shootings, some say the hot weather and the schools' summer break have played a role. Others say love quarrels or territorial disputes may have started them. One Los Angeles detective said some gangs are starting the summer with birthday celebrations or commemorations for slain members.
"They go out and get a little crazy," said Det. Kelle Baitx of the LAPD's Newton Division.
The first homicide in the area occurred early Monday morning, when 33-year-old Dennis Henderson was stabbed and left to die in the back of a car in Watts, police said. Then on Tuesday night, 28-year-old Ricardo Reynoza was shot in the neck in LAPD's Newton Division by several men in a car chasing his vehicle.
There were several other violent deaths throughout the city during the same period, including two stabbings in Rampart, a murder-suicide in North Hollywood and the shooting of a 16-year-old boy in Sylmar.
Despite the recent incidents, the homicide rate in Los Angeles is lower than at this time last year. There were 230 homicides through June 23 of this year, compared with 240 deaths through the same date in 2000 and 189 homicides in 1999.
Police said they will step up patrols and interview residents to prevent additional attacks. They have arrested one man and hope to make additional arrests soon.
The shootings took place over a three-day period as follows, according to police:
About 8:30 p.m., a man on a bicycle shot at a crowd standing on a basketball court on East 42nd Place, hitting a 38-year-old man and two women in their 20s. An hour later, two men drove up the 600 block of East 47th Street and shot two teenagers. Two more teenagers were shot about 10:30 p.m. while standing near San Pedro and 62nd streets.
There were three shootings in the Southeast Division that same night. At 10:15 p.m., a man was shot in the arm and leg on East 90th Street. A suspect was arrested at 2 a.m. Then, in retaliation for that shooting, another occurred at 11:15 p.m. at 88th Place and Stanford Avenue that left three injured. There was a shooting about 10:20 p.m. on East 98th Street.
At 6 a.m., police found a man with fatal stab wounds slumped in the back of a car near 111th Street and Maie Avenue.
The first attack that afternoon occurred at 3:30 p.m., when several men drove up to 61st Street and West Boulevard and shot and wounded two people. Later that evening, a 23-year-old man was shot while driving in the 4900 block of Avalon Boulevard. Soon after, a car drove by the 1200 block of 42nd Place and shot and injured two men sitting on a porch.
About 6 p.m. on Century Boulevard and Grape Street, suspects got out of a car and fired shots, hitting a 19-year-old man. At 10:45 p.m., a gang member on a bike accosted a couple on Figueroa Street near 106th Street. He fired more than half a dozen rounds at the couple, striking the 39-year-old man in the buttocks and wounding a woman bystander in her 30s.
At 2:20 p.m., there was a confrontation between two cars full of gang members at 95th Street and Hooper Avenue, police said. A 19-year-old was wounded.
The fatal shooting occurred at Gage Avenue and Avalon Boulevard about 8:35 p.m. Reynoza was killed and a 32-year-old man was hit in the arm. At 10:30 p.m. at 73rd Street and McKinley Avenue, there was another drive-by shooting, but nobody was hit.