In the wake of a fatal shooting at a gang-related funeral, a police official said Tuesday that mortuaries will be asked to give warning of memorial services that could spark violence.
Vernon Lincoln, 22, was shot Monday outside the funeral of Anthony Dion Bowie, who died after a Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall staffer allegedly administered an illegal chokehold.
There were no police present at or near the funeral when the shooting occurred at the corner of 109th Street and Broadway, said Capt. Bruce Hagerty. He said his division was unaware that the funeral was taking place until about the time it began, and even then did not know that gang members would be present.
"When we get information, we always monitor such funerals at a distance," Hagerty said.
Hagerty, patrol commanding officer of the Southeast Division, said, "We're identifying funeral homes that affect South-Central Los Angeles and requesting advance notice of gang-related funerals."
In the past, funeral homes often have notified police of gang-related funerals, Hagerty said. But "in recent years, violence at funerals has decreased (and) we don't get notice so often," he said.
As they continued their investigation into the shooting Tuesday, police discovered that the victim apparently was not a mourner at the funeral as investigators had believed. In fact, he may have been a rival of some of the people attending the service, said Lt. Sergio Robleto, commander of South Bureau Homicide.
"It seems that what we have here is two separate gangs," he said.
Sonya Bowie, the mother of the young man being memorialized, said she was told that the victim, who was shot outside the church, had not attended the funeral. "This is what people outside told me," she said.
"The guy who got killed did not know my son," she said. Some of those attending the service said he was "an enemy person who didn't get along with my son's gang," she added.
Robleto said a suspect, believed to be one of several people who fled in a car, has not been identified. Many witnesses at the scene were friends of Bowie and reluctant to identify the shooter, Robleto said.
"The fear factor is a little high," he said. Videotape filmed by television news crews at the scene captured some of the shooting, but "the key is eyewitnesses," the lieutenant said.
Sonya Bowie said she was saddened that her son's funeral was marred by the violence. After the shooting, which occurred while the family was still viewing the open casket, at least part of the funeral party proceeded as planned to the Angeles Abbey Memorial Park, where the body was buried.
"It was hard to bury him the way he was supposed to be. Everybody was too upset. I was really weak and dizzy," Bowie said.
Bowie said the week before her son's death had been a happy one. After having lost track of him for several years, she recently found that her son was being held at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey. When she called the facility on Dec. 9 and asked to see him, she was told that authorities would call her back.
"I was real excited about (the possibility of) seeing him," she said. She finally got a call back from the facility a week later. "When they called back, they left a message he was dead.
"To find out he's alive, and a week later find out he's dead . . . ," Bowie said, her voice trailing off.
Anthony Dion Bowie, who was 16 when he died, had not lived with his mother since he was 12. As a youngster, she said, "He wasn't doing the things he should have as a child." When he was 9 years old, she said, he cleaned garages and raked lawns to earn money. "He'd bring it home as if he was the man of the house. He'd say, 'Mama, the kids need this,' like he wasn't one of the kids. He thought, why should he be in school when he could be making money for the family."
When gang members tried to get him involved in their activities, she said, he was eager: "He thought that was part of being a man."