Three youths were shot to death and a 60-year-old man was seriously wounded Thursday night in South-Central Los Angeles in what a policeman called a gang war.
The first of the shootings occurred about 9 p.m., when two of the youths were killed in an alley at the rear of Avalon Boulevard near 52nd Street, according to Detective Bernie Skiles.
In apparent retaliation, a car believed to contain members of the victims' gang began pursuing a vehicle driven by a suspected rival gang member half an hour later near Fremont High School, said Detective Ray Park of the police anti-gang squad.
As the cars rounded a corner at 78th Street and Towne Avenue alongside the school, the lone driver was shot. His car leaped over a curb, hit a chain-link fence and he was partially ejected from the vehicle. Park said the driver had been fatally wounded.
A vehicle was found abandoned a few blocks away, but Park said it had not been determined if it was the car used by the gunmen in the chase.
Officers said the occupants of the car in the second shooting then forced a 60-year-old man out of his auto a few blocks from the school, shot him and drove off in the vehicle. Police said the man was seriously wounded.
Investigators said the area is a battleground between Latino and black gangs. Skiles said the youths killed in the first shooting were Latinos. The driver killed in the second shooting was black, officers said.
Several people in the area of the Avalon slayings were taken to police stations for questioning, as officers instituted a widespread search of the area aided by helicopters, dogs and a police light truck. Officers said they have "a good idea of which gangs are involved" but would not identify them.
Fire Department rescue units and police officers were thrown into confusion as the shootings broke out. At least eight locations were given as the shooting scenes and several descriptions of suspects were supplied to police at about the same time. There were numerous reports of wounded victims from shootings and broken glass, but none could be located.
In addition, police and ambulances also rushed to another shooting homicide at 63rd Street and Bonsallo Avenue about the same time in the same general area, but it turned out to have stemmed from a lovers' quarrel.