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Boy, 14, Shot to Death in South L.A.

Times Staff Writer

A 14-year-old South Los Angeles boy was shot dead Saturday afternoon, apparently pleading for his life after his assailants wounded him and then closed in on him, police said.

Byron Lee, a ninth-grader at Fremont High School, died after being struck several times about 2 p.m. near Stanford Avenue and 81st Street, close to his home.

“So brutal,” said Det. Rudy Lemos of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Division, standing in the street as Byron’s friends and family members wept and hugged nearby.

Lemos said two men in a dark-colored car shot Byron as he was riding his bicycle. Byron lurched a few feet and fell, Lemos said.

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Witnesses saw him turn toward his attackers and seem to beg for mercy as they drove closer. The two men got out, walked up and fired several more rounds, Lemos said.

“He was on his knees, and appeared to be pleading with them, his hands up, and they just kept firing,” he said, shaking his head. “A 14-year-old boy.”

Byron was pronounced dead on arrival at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

His mother, Keva Byum, returned to the scene and stood with friends at the edge of the yellow police tape. She was still wearing pajama bottoms, and a thick jacket was draped over her shoulders.

Friends passed around photos of the youth with sculpted features mugging for the camera at a recent party. “He was always being goofy,” said a neighbor. “He was full of joy.”

Byron’s mother said he had been inside most of Saturday, helping her clean. In the afternoon, he begged to ride his bicycle, she said.

Byron’s 11-year-old brother died almost a year ago from a rare muscular cancer, Byum said. Byron “was all I had left,” she said.

Anyone with information should call (213) 485-1385.

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