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Car rams crowd, killing woman

Times Staff Writers

A brawl among about 30 women near a busy South Los Angeles intersection turned deadly Monday when a woman plowed her car into the crowd, killing a woman who was eight months pregnant, authorities said.

Los Angeles police said that at least two other women were hurt, one critically, when they were rammed by a gold convertible near the corner of West Slauson and South Western avenues. The victim in critical condition is expected to lose her leg, authorities said. Police officials said the motorist sped off after driving into the crowd, but that she later showed up with her mother at the 77th Street station and was being questioned there by homicide detectives Monday night.

The brawl was part of a planned showdown between two groups of women in their early 20s, according to LAPD Cmdr. Pat Gannon. The cause of the dispute was unclear, he said.

The fight began shortly after 2:30 p.m. at a Big Lots discount store parking lot, where witnesses saw women shouting at one another and fighting, Gannon said. The brawl then spilled onto the street and across Western to a nearby 76 gas station.

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At the gas station, the driver of the convertible got into her car and drove into a group of women, pinning one of them against another car, Gannon said. Meanwhile, a crowd of dozens gathered.

“It was totally an intentional act to kill the woman. It was the driver’s way of settling the dispute. It was a horrific act,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck.

He added that the showdown “was not a spontaneous dispute. This was a planned fight.”

He said the confrontation unfolded at one of the area’s busiest intersections -- a corner dotted with chain stores -- and played out in front of 200 to 300 onlookers. Gannon said the brawl, believed to involve women only, was “very unusual.”

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“We have seen women around gangs before, but we haven’t seen anything like this event before,” he said.

One witness, who asked not to be identified, said the driver hit the pregnant woman with her car, dragged her nearly 10 feet until she fell off, then backed up and ran over her again.

The witness said the driver was involved in the dispute. She said that the driver screamed and threatened the other women before getting into her car. According to police, however, the driver said after turning herself in that she drove into the victims accidentally.

The witness said the brawl was over a man, and that word was widespread in the neighborhood before the incident that there would be a confrontation Monday afternoon.

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Larry Berry, 22, a neighborhood resident who showed up at the scene after the fatal confrontation and who identified himself as a friend of the woman who was killed, described the victim as “a very giggly person. She can irritate you and aggravate you, but it’s all out of love. She was just bubbly.” He said the victim had been a cheerleader at Dorsey High School and that when they were in high school they went together to their prom and homecoming celebrations.

Berry, standing within view of where the victim’s body was covered by a white sheet, said he didn’t know what triggered the confrontation.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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jp.renaud@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Stuart Silverstein contributed to this report.


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