L.A. Now

Watts woman killed by police is identified

Los Angeles police Thursday identified a 56-year-old grandmother who was killed by officers in Watts after she allegedly tried to shoot relatives and failed to drop her weapon.

Brenda Williams was struck by rounds fired by three Los Angeles Police Department officers Wednesday night near the Jordan Downs housing project. She was one of three people in officer-involved shootings — two of them deadly — in less than 24 hours.

Neighbors said Williams recently moved into the neighborhood in the 10000 block of Anzac Avenue. They said she may have had a hearing problem and that she walked with the help of a cane.

"She was not a mobile person," said Thomas Ward, 40, who saw Williams on weekends outside talking to her family when he was washing his car.

Ward said he rushed home Wednesday night after his girlfriend told him what had happened. There were so many rounds fired, he said, that his girlfriend's black Corvette parked in his driveway was hit in the tire.

Williams was wielding a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and tried to shoot her daughter and grandchildren, according to the LAPD.

Officers responded to a report of a "shooting in progress" and arrived about 7:30 p.m. Police said they ordered Williams to drop the gun, but that she pointed it at a neighbor across the street.

"Three officers fired their weapons at the suspect," the LAPD said in a statement, "striking her multiple times in the upper torso."

Across the street, Nykayla Roy was watching TV when the shots rang out.

"I heard, pow, pow, pow," said Roy, 19. "It was a lot of shooting. We went out and saw the lady lying on the ground."

Neighbor Elvia Alvarado, who was cooking dinner, said the sight of the body lying in the street was unsettling.

"It was too much for me," she said. "I went back inside the house."

Roy questioned whether the officers could have done more to defuse the situation before opening fire.

"A lot of people think what happened to her was messed up," he said. "The police should have given her a chance to put the gun down."

The LAPD said the shooting was being investigated by detectives from the Southeast Division station, which patrols the area, and the department's Force Investigation Division. The findings will be given to Police Chief Charlie Beck, the LAPD inspector general and Police Commission, the department said.

In the other two officer-involved shootings, a 46-year-old man was killed in Southeast Los Angeles after he refused commands to drop a gun and a man in Panorama City was wounded after he pointed a semiautomatic pistol at police, according to the LAPD. Both incidents were under investigation.

Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.

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