A crowded San Pedro park. A dispute. 50 gunshots. Inside a deadly attack at Peck Park
Days after two people were killed and seven injured in a shooting Sunday at San Pedro’s Peck Park, authorities released new details about the violent incident amid festering concerns from residents over park safety and accountability from city officials.
Investigators believe the gunfire started with a dispute between two people who showed up to a softball game at the park, LAPD Capt. Adrian Gonzalez said at a community meeting Tuesday night in San Pedro.
Questions arose early on over whether a car show that was also being held at the park was related to the shooting, but police have ruled it out as a factor.
The softball league was set up to bring members of different Crips sets together peacefully, gang interventionist Skipp Townsend told the Associated Press this week.
“It was very specific individuals who were either participating in the … game or were there as spectators who were involved in the dispute,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t a team-on-team versus each other. It wasn’t a gang-on-gang versus each other. It was a couple individuals that we have identified who had a dispute, and they decided to bring it to the park on Sunday afternoon.”
From there, he said, the shooting spilled over into a parking lot above the softball field and to a park entrance, where investigators learned some people were shot while trying to flee.
More than 50 shell casings were recovered from the three scenes, Gonzalez said. Investigators have ruled out rifles and automatic firearms as possible weapons used during the shooting. No arrests have been made.
Police recovered four handguns that are believed to have been “involved in some aspect of this shooting violence,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said during a weekly Los Angeles Police Commission meeting Tuesday.
Three men and four women were treated and transported by firefighters for their injuries, Assistant Chief Jaime Moore of the Los Angeles Fire Department said during the community meeting.
Two of the victims, identified Wednesday by the L.A. County coroner’s office as Tashman Williams, 31, of Compton and Carlyle Phillips, 29, of Cypress, died at hospitals.
Authorities later learned two additional people were injured but were not treated by firefighters and were taken to hospitals privately, Moore said.
In an interview with The Times, Andre “Low Down” Christian said he and a friend were speaking with another attendee at the softball game when the shooting started.
“Right after we had that conversation, you just heard gunfire — pop, pop,” he said. “Then, when it got to going on, you’d thought we was in Vietnam.”
Christian and his friend joined a mass of people fleeing the gunfire, stumbling as they ran to a ditch to take cover.
As they hid, Christian said, he looked up to see a man shot while trying to flee in a vehicle and crash. That man later died; it’s not known whether he was Williams or Phillips.
The crash caused a logjam, Christian said, preventing other vehicles from leaving and blocking ambulances from reaching victims.
“So, people started literally carrying [injured] people from the back of the park to the front of the park, to the ambulances,” Christian said. “You had gang members who don’t get along on a regular basis, literally working together to carry these bodies.”
An autopsy report found Officer Houston Tipping was acting as an instructor when he was killed during a training exercise and ruled the death an accident.
Moneke Howard, 57, said the men who were killed went to school with her son, and she thought of herself as their adopted mother although she was not their official caretaker.
“They were dear to my heart because I helped raise them,” she said. “I’m really, really torn and distraught over their deaths.”
Williams and Phillips were previously “involved in different activities which led to gang activities,” Howard said, but they now had families of their own and had changed their lives.
“It was the pressure of if you live in this neighborhood, then you’re from this neighborhood,” she said. “You had to participate in some fashion in order to live, pretty much.”
Both men had moved to Las Vegas several years ago and were visiting California at the time of their deaths, Howard said.
“They were living good, they were happy, and they were out of the hood,” she said. “They felt free that they didn’t have to look over their shoulders and worry about people perceiving them to be people they weren’t.”
After the deadly shooting, gang interventionists were immediately dispatched and continue to stay involved in efforts to stem further violence, LAPD Chief Moore said.
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At Tuesday’s community meeting, several people asked whether the game’s organizers went through the proper city permitting process and whether police were on hand to monitor the event.
Deanne Dedmon, the city’s acting Parks and Recreation Department superintendent, said that the groups had a permit and insurance but that only 100 people were permitted for the game; police said they saw about 500 trying to flee the shooting at the park. Officers were not assigned to monitor the game but had checked on it once and found it to be peaceful, police said.
All permits for Sunday events at the park have been canceled for the rest of the summer, Dedmon said.
Still, concern continues to grow among some residents, with one at the community meeting saying Peck Park has been a public safety issue for years.
LAPD Capt. Brent McGuyre said residents should expect an increased police presence in the area, with officers out in patrol units and on bicycles, ATVs and horses.
“I know a lot of the sense of safety, the sense of wonder that everyone should have, especially our children, at the park, has been shattered a little bit,” McGuyre said. “In the immediate future, just know that we are trying to wrestle back that sense of safety, that sense of community that surrounds this park.”
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