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3 Sought in Carjacking Attempt That Injured Father and Son

July 08, 1993|ANTHONY MILLICAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gardena police stepped up their search Wednesday for three men wanted in the shooting of a Navy reservist who was wounded in front of his 12-year-old son during an attempted carjacking on Independence Day.

The father, Thomas A. Richards III of San Pedro, was listed in critical condition Wednesday at Gardena Memorial Hospital, where he was on life-support systems, officials said.

Richards' son, whom police did not identify because of his age, suffered a fractured vertebra when their car struck a parked automobile after the shooting. The boy was released from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday.

Accompanied by his son, Richards had dropped off his wife at work Sunday and was headed home about 11:30 p.m. when he stopped at a traffic light at Vermont Avenue and 161st Street in Gardena, Lt. Gary Cherry said.

While at the light, Richards was approached by at least two men who demanded his 1993 Honda Civic, Cherry said.

"Some brief words were exchanged and one of the suspects shot Mr. Richards," Cherry said. Richards slumped over the steering wheel and the car sped forward with his son frantically trying to stop it.

"He tried to gain control of the car and he couldn't," Cherry said.

Richards' auto struck a parked car about 150 yards from the site of the shooting.

The assailants, believed to be in their late teens or early 20s, ran to a dark, full-size American car and sped off, Cherry said. A third man had been sitting in the car, authorities said.

A witness told police that the men had been waiting at the corner watching cars go by, prompting detectives to believe that they had staked out the intersection and were looking for a victim, Cherry said.

As of Wednesday, none of the men had been arrested.

"We have a couple leads but we're not sure how strong they are," Cherry said.

Richards, 35, is a chief petty officer and active-duty reservist who has been on temporary assignment at a Navy training school in San Diego. He was visiting his family in San Pedro for the holiday weekend , said Karl Johnson, a Navy spokesman in Long Beach.

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