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Slaying Unnerves Campus, Though No Link Is Found

Unsolved drive-by near Washington Prep has no apparent tie to the school, authorities say.

January 14, 2003|Joe Mathews | Times Staff Writer

A drive-by slaying just outside the gates of Washington Preparatory High School last week has shaken nerves at the school, though authorities say there is no sign the shooting has anything to do with the public school near Inglewood.

Teachers and parents received a letter Monday from Principal James Noble describing the killing of a 19-year-old man, who was not a Washington student, about 50 yards from the northwest edge of the campus shortly after school Friday. Noble asked parents to call him with questions and pledged to provide counseling to students, dozens of whom witnessed the aftermath of the shooting.

Security at the school has been tightened since complaints last fall about robberies, beatings and drug use there and the ease with which non-students previously came onto the Los Angeles Unified School District campus.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's homicide Lt. Joe Hartshorne said the shooting victim, Daron Butler, lived in the neighborhood and was walking home along 108th Street when the driver of a passing vehicle stopped and fired multiple times. Butler was struck in the torso and ran toward the school, dying on the street corner in front of it as students and teachers left for the day. "It's an unsolved case," Hartshorne said. "It doesn't appear it's related to the school in any way."

He said detectives were investigating whether the shooting was gang-related.

In November, school district officials labeled reports about crime on the Washington Prep campus as overblown but moved to fix the perimeter fence, added cameras to monitor the halls and hired 10 new staff members to focus on school safety.

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