Man Held in Shooting at School
As word spread through Locke High School on Friday that police had arrested a gang member for allegedly shooting a 15-year-old girl in the head outside the campus, some cried and others prayed that she would wake from a coma.
Police said Deliesh Allen remained close to death at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after a gunman, apparently aiming at a member of a rival gang, shot her Thursday as she waited for her aunt to pick her up near the school gates in South Los Angeles.
After an outpouring of tips from residents, police arrested an 18-year-old former Locke student, Dejuan Hines, at 3 a.m. Friday and booked him on suspicion of attempted murder. LAPD Det. Sal LaBarbera said the gunman fired at least three shots.
“This was a senseless shooting of a 15-year-old girl trying to go home from school,” said Assistant Los Angeles Police Chief James McDonnell. “There’s no indication that she was the intended target.”
Hines is a member of the so-called Front Street Crips, and was shooting at members of the rival Back Street Crips, police said. He was on probation for an unspecified crime and had a history of juvenile violations. Police are holding him in lieu of $1 million bail, Assistant Chief George Gascon said.
Police went to three homes linked to Hines’ family, finding him at the third, Gascon said. Officers found two handguns during the raids, and forensic experts are investigating whether either was used in the shooting, he said.
By Friday morning, the last day before spring break, teachers and friends had built a small memorial on the bloodstained sidewalk at 110th Street and Avalon Boulevard.
“I have to walk down Avalon, and I’m scared,” said Shaterra Thompson, 15.
Every day, Thompson had greeted Allen, who always wore a pink coat and her hair in a large bun. Thompson wondered whether she would see her again.
In a bungalow classroom, math teacher Amber Hardy wiped away tears as she remembered her last conversation with Allen on Thursday afternoon. Allen had said she was excited about receiving a good grade on a quiz.
Hours later, Hardy rushed outside and found Allen on the sidewalk, her boyfriend cradling her.
“It was right after the bell rang. There were kids all over,” Hardy said. “The bullets were coming toward the school, so it could have been any of the kids. It makes me so angry.”
Hardy, who teaches Allen math and tutors her after school, called the girl a fighter who worked hard to solve problems. She hopes Allen will conquer this one too.
In a class assignment, Allen once wrote that she dreamed of becoming a hairstylist, getting married and having two children with her boyfriend, Joseph Clarke.
At the hospital, Clarke, 15, waited for news on Allen’s condition.
“I told her I wanted to marry her,” he said.
Usually on Fridays, when the school plays hip hop music, Allen dances on a stage in the quad area, students said. On other days during lunch, she hangs out at an outdoor table with her cousins.
“Yesterday I sat at that table with her,” said friend Tameeka Ford, 16. “I was hurt last night because I thought she was gone. But she is holding on.”
The school district increased security around Locke on Friday, and Principal Frank Wells circled the school in a motorized cart to keep an eye on students.
School officials said 27 pupils sought support from high school and crisis intervention counselors.
“To be stricken with this tragedy ... a 15-year-old kid -- it’s tough,” Wells said. Locke students are “very resilient because this is not foreign to their community,” he said.
Hardy, a second-year teacher, said she was surprised that many students seemed unaffected.
When she brought up the shooting in class, some said they didn’t know Allen. Hardy told them that should not matter.
“They don’t realize that is not normal,” she said. “It is just not something that students should be accustomed to.”
The shooting sparked outrage among community leaders and school officials, who called on gang members to put down their guns.
At a news conference, Mayor James K. Hahn said: “Deliesh’s life is now hanging in the balance because of a senseless shooting, one that we all find intolerable.”
Sylvia Rousseau, District 7 superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said that “when our children are in class, they look to the school for a place of comfort, nurturing and refuge.” But, she said, the school can’t control what happens outside.
Times staff writers Nicholas Shields and Susana Enriquez contributed to this report.