It was a typical Friday night at Gable House Bowl in Torrance — people celebrating birthdays, friends meeting up for a few rounds of bowling at the end of the workweek.
Then gunfire erupted. People scrambled for cover.
When it was over, three people lay dead inside, including two 28-year-old men who were best friends. Four others were injured.
On Saturday morning, friends and relatives of the victims huddled in a nearby parking lot, waiting for the bodies to be brought out — and for answers about what happened.
Torrance police were still searching for the shooter or shooters. The bowling alley, with its distinctive blue sloping roof, has been a popular nightspot in the quiet suburb for decades.
After finishing a shift as a maintenance worker Friday night, Robert Meekins headed to Gable House to meet Astin Edwards, the godfather of his 5-year-old son.
The friends, both 28, were killed in the shooting.
Meekins, who was from South L.A., had a contagious smile and loved to dress stylishly. He had never been in a gang or in trouble with the law, relatives said.
"He loved his son. He was hardworking," said his aunt, Carol, who declined to give her last name. "He was doing good for himself."
The family had not yet broken the news to Meekins' son.
"I hope they find the killer, that he turns himself in," Carol said. "He took him away from us and his 5-year-old son. The hardest thing will be to explain where his dad is."
Before leaving the house that night, Edwards asked his mother to borrow her car, recalled his father, Dwayne Edwards.
Those were the last words that Astin Edwards, who worked loading planes at Los Angeles International Airport, spoke to his parents.
"He was a good guy. He wasn't into no gangbanging," his father said. "He helped everyone who asked him to."
Latrice Radford was at a movie when she noticed 25 missed calls on her phone. Her brother, 20-year-old Michael Radford, had been shot.
She rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, but he wasn't there. At the bowling alley, she was in tears, waiting for news. The Los Angeles County coroner's office later confirmed that Radford was one of the victims.
On Saturday morning, Torrance police Sgt. Ronald Harris could not provide details about the events that led to the shooting or the weapon used.
"This is an unfortunate incident, and one shooting is one too many," Harris said.
Some witnesses said a fight broke out before the shooting, which was reported about 11:55 p.m. at the bowling alley on Hawthorne Boulevard south of Sepulveda Boulevard.
Edwards, Meekins and Radford died at the scene. Two injured men were taken to a hospital, and two others opted to seek medical attention on their own.
The scene outside was chaotic, with an anxious crowd kept back behind police tape. One man, his white shirt torn and bloodstained, had large bandages on his back. Some looked at photographs to try to identify a suspect.
Brandon Tyre, 31, was at the bowling alley celebrating a friend's birthday. He was in the middle of a game, he said, when a fight erupted, then gunshots. His brother was wounded and remained inside the building, he said.
Jesus Perez of San Pedro said he heard about four gunshots and hid inside the bowling alley's bar for about 15 minutes before a security guard escorted him out.
"We heard there was a big fight before that," he said. "We just ran into the bar, and we just took cover, because after the fight we heard, 'Pop! Pop!'"
Another witness, who declined to give his name, said there was a fight, then nine gunshots.
Gable House opened in 1960 and hosted many professional bowling tournaments in the sport's heyday. On Friday and Saturday nights, a glow-in-the-dark bowling event called "Rock-n-Glow" runs from midnight to 3 a.m.
Employees, who would not give their names because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said violence at the establishment is rare, though fights sometimes break out in the parking lot.