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Man Is Killed in Brawl at Club

A Compton gang member is shot in the head during a fistfight at the Conga Room. Police ask witnesses for help in identifying the gunman.

October 19, 2002|Andrew Blankstein and Kenneth Reich | Times Staff Writers

A reputed Compton gang member was shot to death at a popular Latin music and dance club in the Wilshire District's Miracle Mile late Thursday, and Los Angeles police appealed for witnesses to come forward.

The shooting, which took place about 11:45 p.m. at the Conga Room on Wilshire Boulevard, escalated from a fistfight that had broken out in a narrow upstairs hallway, police said.

Law enforcement sources identified the victim as Jerry Bonds, 26, of Compton. He was pronounced dead at the scene with a gunshot wound to the head.

"The victim in the shooting was getting the better of the suspect during the fight," said Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Stan Ludwig. "And that's when the suspect went for the gun."

The gunman escaped out a back door, Ludwig said. Several more shots were fired outside, but police were unsure who was doing the shooting.

Bonds was a member of the Southside Crips, the Compton gang that police suspected of orchestrating Tupac Shakur's slaying, according to a Sept. 25, 1996, Compton police affidavit. The rap star was gunned down Sept. 7, 1996, in a drive-by shooting by four assailants in a Cadillac near the Las Vegas Strip.

Bonds, whose gang moniker was Monk, was never a suspect in Shakur's killing, but police identified him as an associate of Crips gang member Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, named in the affidavit as the man who shot Shakur.

According to the affidavit, police interviewed Bonds and other Crip members about the Shakur shooting three days later at a so-called gang safe house on East Glencoe Street in Compton.

Los Angeles police would not comment on Bonds' identity or any alleged gang ties, but asked that more witnesses come forward in the case.

At the time of the shooting, more than 200 dancers and diners were attending a promotional record release party, which featured some artists on the Def Jam label, as well as a salsa party at opposite ends of the club, police said.

The Conga Room, which opened in 1998, has several owners, including actors Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Smits and comedian Paul Rodriguez. Closed Friday, the club plans to reopen today.

"The Conga Room takes pride in its continued role as a community and cultural leader for Latin music and dance," the club said in a statement.

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Times staff writer Chuck Philips contributed to this report.

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