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Teenager Wounded Outside School

Boy waiting for a bus is struck in the leg by a bullet as a man opens fire on a passing vehicle.

September 17, 2003|Cara Mia DiMassa, Jill Leovy and Monte Morin | Times Staff Writers

A teenage boy was wounded as he waited for a bus outside his South-Central Los Angeles high school Tuesday afternoon when a gunman stepped into the middle of busy Normandie Avenue at 110th Street and fired repeatedly at a passing SUV, police said.

It was the second such incident near a Los Angeles city school campus in a week.

On Sept. 9, three teenagers waiting at a bus stop outside their Woodland Hills high school were critically wounded when men in a car slowed, shouted a gang challenge and fired into a crowd.

The 16-year-old victim Tuesday was outside Duke Ellington Continuation High School when a stray bullet hit him in the lower leg. The wound was described as non-life-threatening.

Hours after the shooting, parents and school officials meeting on campus at Duke Ellington voiced anger and weariness over the violence.

"Parents are furious," said Marcia Stanley, whose son and daughter attend the school. "It's a really big problem. This happens often."

Principal Cecil McLinn said violence has become too common. During his eight years at the school, he said, seven students have been killed.

"We are just sick and tired of the killing down here," McLinn said. "We are just tired. I have been in education many years, and this is the worst I have seen it."

The shooting at Duke Ellington, which shares a campus with Washington Preparatory High School, occurred at 3:30 p.m., just minutes after school let out for the day.

The victim was standing at an MTA bus stop on 110th Street when a white SUV traveling north on Normandie attracted the attention of a young man who stepped into the street, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and fired numerous rounds at the rear of the SUV, according to police. The gunman then ran south on Normandie.

Officers from the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol all happened to be in the area and responded to the sound of gunfire. Officers sealed off the area and searched for the gunman without success, said P.J. Webb, a spokesman for school district police.

Police did arrest two 14-year-old students who had a handgun and took another man into custody for questioning. The man was believed to have information about the shooter, Webb said. But the 14-year-olds, he said, "were just in the area" and appeared to have no connection to the attack.

McLinn said the wounded student had kept a doctor's appointment Tuesday and had not attended school. The boy had recently transferred to Ellington from Washington Prep.

Principal McLinn said he first heard of the shooting as he walked across the school parking lot, moments after it happened.

"When I walked out of my gate, I looked 500 yards down the street, and all I saw were flashing red lights," McLinn said.

As emergency crews rushed to the scene in SouthL.A., a 25-year-old man was shot and wounded a few blocks from Belmont High School in downtown Los Angeles. Neither the shooter nor the victim in that case were connected with the earlier incident, authorities said

The attacks came just as school officials, police and parents were beginning a new collaborative effort to protect students on campus and in neighborhoods immediately surrounding them.

The developing "village policing" plan involves school officials, sheriff's deputies, the LAPD, the CHP, the MTA and others.

McLinn said he had spent more than two hours at a meeting on the initiative earlier in the day, which he called "very ironic."

Authorities said security at the South L.A. campus would be beefed up considerably beginning today. The district's police department today will add four patrol cars in the area and increase the number of foot patrol officers from two to four. Bicycle and motorcycle patrols also will visit the perimeter of the campus in the coming days.

"This helps give everyone a sense of security," Webb said.

Still, parents said they were uneasy.

"It's ridiculous you can't come and go," said Angela Holiday, whose 18-year-old son attends Ellington.

"I called home to make sure my son wasn't the one. I don't like the idea that I have to be frightened for my kid to get an education."

Parents in Woodland Hills expressed similar fears last week after a 17-year-old girl and two boys ages 15 and 16 were struck by bullets outside Taft High School as they waited for a bus.

The students survived, but the shooters have not been found.

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Times staff writers Jose Cardenas and Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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