Civic leaders are planning to march through Watts on Saturday to demonstrate against gang violence, which has been blamed for four recent deaths in and around Nickerson Gardens, an area that has seen a marked decline in violence.
According to police and coroner’s records, three men have been killed on a short stretch of East 115th Street, between South Central and Compton avenues, since Nov. 22.
Lavell Hudson, 24, was shot in the head at 4 a.m. that day. Rayshawn Boyce, 31, was killed Dec. 12, and Glenn Carr, 45, was killed Dec. 17. A fourth man, Kevin Shallowhorn, was shot and killed Dec. 22 in the 1600 block of East 110th Street, just outside the Nickerson Gardens public housing development.
Capt. Phillip Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southeast Community Police Station said officers have responded with a wave of patrols, search warrants and narcotics enforcement. For now, that has tamped down the shooting -- “but everything I’m hearing is that it still may not be over,” he said.
The killings, he said, all appear to be connected to a dispute within the Bounty Hunters, the dominant gang in Nickerson Gardens. The conflict began when one faction of the gang claimed it had been robbed by another.
No arrests have been made.
The LAPD has come to rely extensively on gang interventionists to prevent retaliation shootings. Tingirides said that the system works well when there is a dispute between two gangs but that when one gang becomes divided, members tend to view it as a private matter, “and we seem to get a lot less information.”
Marchers will depart at 11 a.m. Saturday from the Wrecking Crew for Christ Holiness Church Trauma Center at 11250 Avalon Blvd.
“We’re trying to stop this war,” said Carl Lee, a church minister. “The police are doing all they can. We respect them. But we, the people, have to get out there and demonstrate.”
Crime in L.A. and the county continued to drop in 2009, pushing homicides to levels not seen since the 1960s. The Southeast station, which includes Watts in its patrol area, has recorded the city’s sharpest decline in serious crime in the last two years, Tingirides said. Still, police have to confront bursts of violence such as this one with some regularity. In 2008, 11 people were shot in Watts in one 72-hour period after a dispute between two other gangs, Tingirides said.
“I don’t see this as an issue that’s going to ruin what we’ve created down here,” he said. “We’re still going in the right direction.”