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Family, friends share grief at vigil for slain boy, 14

A 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed Saturday night while walking home in Vermont Square was remembered Monday as a quiet child who liked video games and occasionally played basketball.

Elawnza Peebles, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and jeans, was walking down Kansas Avenue about 9:40 p.m. when he was killed.

Detectives don't know if the gunman was on foot or in a vehicle, and are hoping for witnesses to come forward.


Saturday night, Porshea Merritt was standing on her porch a few houses down when her cousin told her someone had been shot. She walked outside and called 9-1-1, Peebles’ body in the distance in a pool of blood.

“He was there in the fetal position,” she said.

Merritt, 25, has lived in the area her entire life. She said in the past few years, her street had grown quieter: “I hear gunshots, but they’re not so close.”

Now, Merritt says, she won’t let her 4-year-old daughter play outside in the front yard. She’s afraid to walk to the store.

“He could have been on my sidewalk,” she said.

Peebles, a ninth-grader at Manual Arts Senior High School, liked to take apart cellphones and play on his Xbox. He was still afraid of the dark, said his grandmother, Brenda Chatman. He had recently moved to the area to stay with his cousin, Lakia Jackson.

“Everything is still how he left it, too,” Jackson said. 

On the street where he was shot, candles and a poster with Peebles’ smiling face had been tied to a tree, along with a teddy bear.

“He still had the twinkle in his eyes,” said his mother, Carresha Skiffer. “That innocence.”

At Monday night's vigil, dozens of people stood in a tight circle holding cups with candles inside. Many cried.

"We don't live in Baghdad, we live on a street in Los Angeles," said Lucy Howard, a family friend, to the crowd.

Robert Whitman, the principal at Manual Arts, said he was shocked to hear that Peebles had been gunned down. In the three years that Whitman has been the principal of the school, this is the first student who has been killed.

"He wasn't a bad kid," Whitman said. "He was very respectful."



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Twitter: @nicolesantacruz

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