Gun vi­o­lence rocks Westside

Po­lice are look­ing for any link be­tween sev­eral in­ci­dents that left 1 dead, 4 in­jured.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Javier Pan­zar, Kate Mather and Matt Hamil­ton javier.pan­zar@la­ kate.mather@la­ matt.hamil­ton @la­ Times staff writer Joseph Serna con­trib­uted to this re­port.

One per­son was killed and four oth­ers in­jured Thurs­day in a se­ries of midafter­noon shoot­ings in a quiet Westside neigh­bor­hood, briefly prompt­ing a city­wide tac­ti­cal alert, po­lice said.

Gun­fire first erupted in the Palms neigh­bor­hood about 3 p.m. in the out­skirts of Wood­bine Park, at Vin­ton Av­enue and Wood­bine Street. There, po­lice found two peo­ple wounded, said Lt. John Je­nal of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment.

One of the two was pro­nounced dead at the scene, Je­nal said.

Mo­ments later, a third per­son was crit­i­cally in­jured in a shoot­ing about one block from the park, said Of­fi­cer Jack Richter.

About a half-mile from the park and a few min­utes later, an­other shoot­ing oc­curred out­side a 7-Eleven near Over­land Av­enue and Na­tional Boule­vard, Je­nal said.

Rafael Rocha, who saw the am­bush un­fold, said a group of men fired from across the shop­ping cen­ter park­ing lot at two men leav­ing the con­ve­nience store.

“There was no ar­gu­ment, no fight­ing. They didn’t say any­thing to each other; they just started shoot­ing,” Rocha, 44, said. “Th­ese guys did not care about hu­man life at all.”

The two men re­turned fire, and bul­lets tore through an ad­ja­cent nail sa­lon and a Ver­i­zon store as well as a parked Honda Civic, send­ing glass fly­ing, Rocha said. Peo­ple in the park­ing lot and nearby stores ducked or ran for cover dur­ing the ex­change, which was partly cap­tured by a 7-Eleven sur­veil­lance cam­era.

The four wounded peo­ple were taken to a hos­pi­tal, some in pri­vate ve­hi­cles, po­lice said. One of the men out­side the 7-Eleven ap­peared to have been shot in the stom­ach, Rocha said.

As of late Thurs­day, po­lice were can­vass­ing the park and neigh­bor­hoods for wit­nesses. No one had been de­tained in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dents, and it was un­clear how many sus­pects po­lice were search­ing for.

One pos­si­ble sus­pect was de­scribed by po­lice as a man driv­ing a light-colored SUV. Rocha said the shoot­ers near the 7-Eleven fled in what ap­peared to be an old Honda Civic.

“We are still try­ing to fig­ure out if there is any con­nec­tion be­tween the shoot­ings,” Je­nal said.

The LAPD went on a city­wide tac­ti­cal alert in re­sponse to the shoot­ings but later down­graded the alert to cover only the West Bureau, which in­cludes Palms. Two schools — Palms Mid­dle School and Palms El­e­men­tary — were briefly locked down as a pre­cau­tion, L.A. school po­lice said.

The vi­o­lence stunned a com­mu­nity whose re­cently re­fur­bished Wood­bine Park — sur­rounded by homes and apart­ment build­ings — is usu­ally bustling with fam­i­lies and pickup bas­ket­ball games, neigh­bors said.

“I’ve never seen this kind of crime,” said City Coun­cil­man Paul Koretz, sur­vey­ing the dog walk­ers and oth­ers strolling by in the late af­ter­noon. “I hope it doesn’t scare fam­i­lies away from the park. It’s as safe as it could be.”

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

LOS AN­GE­LES po­lice found two peo­ple wounded by gun­fire at Wood­bine Park, in the Palms neigh­bor­hood, on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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