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Man Held in Death of Boy Hit by Gunfire as He Slept

Violence: Harry Hines is recalled as a typical 12-year-old. He was killed when a bullet pierced the wall of his bedroom.

January 04, 2002|SANDRA MURILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wanda Hines wept Thursday as LAPD officers recounted the night she crawled to her son's bedroom to find that he had been shot, the victim of an errant bullet.

Twelve-year-old Harry Hines, known to family as "Mookie," was asleep in his bedroom in the 1700 block of South La Brea Avenue on Nov. 25 when a bullet pierced the wall and hit him in the neck.

At a news conference Thursday, officers announced the arrest of Hines' suspected killer, 27-year-old Ricardo Ernesto Mejia, on Dec. 27.

The gang member for whom the bullets were intended fled, said Capt. Kirk Albanese, adding that information from witnesses led to Mejia's arrest.

Wanda Hines, 42, smiled as she described her son. She called him a happy-go-lucky child who enjoyed a 12-year-old's typical diversions.

"He loved baseball, basketball," she said. "He loved girls."

Hines, who has two other children, said she always feared for their safety.

On that day, she said, she and Harry had watched a movie, and a friend of Harry's had come over. When the friend went home, Harry played Nintendo into the night, falling asleep on the floor.

About 1 a.m., his mother heard gunshots and went to his room.

"I said, 'Mookie, get up,' " Hines said. "He turned, and I saw blood."

Harry died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a short time later.

Mejia has been charged with murder, criminal gang activity and assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

"It's unfortunate, to say the least, that a child can't be asleep in his home without being shot" by gangs, Albanese said. The death "should clearly shock the conscience of anyone that hears about it."

Wanda Hines said she is not sure if she has any words for the suspected killer.

"I can't say," she answered calmly. "I'll have to see when we get to court."

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