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Seven More Shot in L.A.

Times Staff Writers

Seven people were shot on the streets of South Los Angeles Tuesday night in less than an hour, continuing a spate of violence in the city for the fifth straight day. One man was killed and two were critically wounded.

Between 6:40 and 7:15 p.m., attackers opened fire on men and women between the ages of 20 and 25 in three separate incidents. Police said at least two of the shootings appeared to be gang-related.

“We do have a gang war. We have several,” said Capt. James Miller of the 77th Street Division as he surveyed the scene of the third shooting at 76th Street and Western Avenue. “I’ve had 77 gang-related homicides this year, involving 46 gangs, so that’s where my problem is.”

The shootings followed one the deadliest weekends on Los Angeles city streets in recent memory. Thirteen people were killed between Friday night and Monday, in what Police Chief William J. Bratton called “four horrific days.”

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Bratton has warned that the city could become the homicide capital of the U.S. by the end of the year. A total of 592 possible homicides have occurred so far, the most since 1996.

A highly disproportionate number of the shootings have taken place in South Los Angeles, and Bratton on Tuesday said the department would begin a push to tackle the violence there. The chief already has already ordered police officials to beef up their patrol presence and has met with civic leaders to discuss what the community can do to help.

Within hours of Tuesday night’s shootings, Bratton was calling officers on their cell phones asking to be briefed, officials said.

The first attack took place on the corner of 83th Street and Western Avenue. A man was shot in the head and later died. Police said they didn’t know what the dispute was about.

The next two appeared to be gang-related, officials said, but involved different gangs.

Shortly after 7 p.m., at 66th Street and Vermont Avenue, one woman and two men were struck about 7:10 p.m., the woman in the leg, one of the men in the back and the other in the leg. They were in stable condition.

Five minutes later, 76th and Western, three people were attacked in another walk-up shooting. This time, one man was hit in the head, one in the chest. They were in critical condition. A third was shot in the leg and was in stable condition.

No one was in custody.

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Loren Hickenbottom, 21, said he had dodged bullets and his friend was struck as they stood outside an apartment building at 83rd and Western. the scene of the first attack. “Four people dressed in black walked up, showed us guns in their waistband and started shooting. No words were said,” he said.

As he was giving a statement to police, Hickenbottom said, he heard the shots at 76th and Western and raced over.

“How is something not going to be related if it happened within minutes of each other?” he said.

Neighbors stood nervously talking a few yards from police tape marking off an alley near 76th Street. Several said they had heard gunfire, but no voices or cars.

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“It was just quiet, and all I heard was pop, pop, pop,” said an 18-year-old who declined to give his name.

Darlene Lavender, 40, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood, criticized police.

“All this shooting? What are they doing? Nothing. They’re not doing something right,” she said.

The “new chief”, Hickenbottom said, “can’t do anything. [Former Police Chief] Bernard Parks’ own granddaughter got killed, and he couldn’t do anything about it.”

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Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report


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