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Gun Scare Disrupts Kickoff of Safe Parks Program

October 28, 2000

WATTS — It was supposed to be an outdoor press conference at Ted Watkins Park to kick off the county's Safe Parks program.

But it was moved inside to a gym after police received an emergency call saying someone had a rifle in a house across the street. About 40 children from the 96th Street School were taken inside.

Police went to the home and found no weapons. But two of the public officials in attendance, county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, didn't skip a beat in using the disturbance to tout the need for the program.

"It gives you an example of how we do need all these resources," said Burke, who represents the 2nd District.

The program will put more emergency call boxes in county parks, as well as signs warning that criminal activity will not be tolerated. Garcetti also said there will be more lighting.

The extra measures will be put into eight county parks and are expected to be expanded countywide.

The students remained calm and were assigned "a couple of officers to take their minds off" the disturbance, said County Police Capt. Carl Moore.

Burke said she was scared and Garcetti said he was shocked by the police call.

"My thoughts at the time were, 'We're going to be fine but we're surrounded by police officers. What happens if this was a normal day and there weren't police officers around?' "

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