Gang warfare that killed one and seriously injured three others spilled from the streets of Boyle Heights into a hospital emergency room Saturday, injuring a pregnant woman and sending nurses, doctors, patients and dozens of visitors scrambling for cover, police said.
The street violence started at 9:30 p.m. Friday in Boyle Heights, about 1 1/2 miles east of the Los Angeles Civic Center. At 1:30 a.m. Saturday, as a wounded 19-year-old gang member was being treated in the emergency room of White Memorial Hospital, two members of a rival gang walked up to the building and started shooting. The spray of bullets from a 12-gauge shotgun and a .30-caliber rifle shattered glass at the entrance to the emergency room.
"It was kind of an ambush," Los Angeles Police Detective Robert Suter said.
The shooters apparently were aiming at the 30 to 35 gang members standing around the emergency room entrance. The only person hit was Maria Flores, 18, who police said was five months pregnant and was with gang members awaiting news about their friend Richard Ortiz, who was undergoing treatment for a gunshot wound in the head. She was hit in the face with pellets from a shotgun blast. A hospital staff member said she was treated and sent home.
Ortiz was shot at 9:30 p.m. Friday while he was driving his car at the intersection of Cummings Street and New Jersey Street, not far from White Memorial, police said. The assailant was one of four gang members, police said.
It was miraculous, Suter said, that no one else was injured at the hospital because bullets from the rifle penetrated three walls, including the outside of the structure.
"We have a lot of gang violence but this is unusual," Suter said. "How often do you get a hospital shot up?"
The shooting at the hospital, where victims of gang violence are routinely treated, was the second within two weeks, hospital officials said.
Ed Fox, a White Hospital administrator, said the earlier shooting occurred when an apparent gang member drove by the hospital and opened fire, hitting a concrete wall at the 377-bed facility.
Saturday afternoon, the evidence of the most recent attack could be seen: four large bullet holes in the sliding glass doors and windows at the entrance to the emergency room. Another bullet hole was visible in an emergency room wall. Work crews were repairing the windows, while the reception area for emergency treatment was relocated.
Authorities said there were several related gang incidents leading up to the hospital shooting.
Forty minutes after Ortiz was struck Friday night, another gang member was fatally shot, police said. Ricardo Bautista, 18, was hit several times as he was getting out of his car at 4th and Breed streets. He was taken to County-USC Medical Center where police said he died Saturday morning.
An hour and a half after the attack on Bautista, 15 gang members jumped two men on a sidewalk on South Gless Street. The two, thought by police to be non-gang members in their 30s, were beaten so badly that they could not speak with investigators.
The two, whose names were not immediately available, were taken to County-USC Medical Center.
A 16-year-old suspect, whose name was not released because of his age, was arrested shortly after the beating on Gless Street. The teen-ager was arrested after he allegedly put a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun into a trash can.
Authorities said they were investigating whether he had a role in the night of violence.
The motivation for the string of attacks remained a mystery Saturday. "It could be from an earlier fight, a bad dope deal or just something that was said. It doesn't take a lot," Suter said.
Times staff writer Tracy Wilkinson contributed to this story.