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Witnesses to Slaying Hailed as Heroes

September 19, 2003|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Two witnesses who trailed a pair of young suspects to a home after a fatal shooting in South Los Angeles on Thursday morning were hailed as heroes and cited as examples of how citizen involvement can help curb the area's burgeoning homicide rate.

The suspects, 12 and 14, were arrested less than two hours after the gang-related ambush that left Kevin Jones, 21, dead and Jones' 16-year-old male companion seriously wounded. The 16-year-old was not identified.

Police Chief William J. Bratton credited the witnesses, who were not identified to protect them from possible retaliation, with providing information that made the arrests possible. He said the witnesses will be protected. "Without the assistance of these conscientious citizens, this murder would have gone unsolved," Bratton said. "They are heroes."

Bratton said that in recent weeks, witnesses have come forward with information that led to arrests in two other murder cases in South Los Angeles.

"It's a new trend. We're very encouraged," Bratton said at a news conference outside the Southeast Division Station.

Mayor James K. Hahn said the witnesses in the Thursday morning shooting had set an example that he hopes would be emulated throughout the city.

"The only way to stop this violence is when the citizens get involved," Hahn said.

Police said the victims were sitting in their car at 103rd Street and Grandee Avenue, waiting for a Blue Line train to clear the intersection, when two youths walked up and started shooting. The assailants fled on foot, Bratton said.

He said the witnesses followed the youths to a home and then drove to the Southeast Station. Officers went to the home and arrested the suspects, the chief said. Afterward, other witnesses identified the suspects as the killers, he said. Both were booked on suspicion of murder.

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