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Girl, 3, Hurt in Drive-By Shooting

Three others are injured outside South L.A. store in the third shooting of a child in three days.

June 03, 2004|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

A 3-year old girl in a stroller was critically wounded in a drive-by shooting Wednesday outside a South Los Angeles store, the third child in three days to become an innocent victim of gun violence.

Three others, including the girl's brother, also were wounded by gang members wielding assault weapons, police said.

In the San Fernando Valley, a 5-year-old boy was in critical condition Wednesday after being struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing in his backyard.

On Memorial Day, a 13-year-old boy was killed shortly before midnight when gang members in a passing car shot at a South Los Angeles house and hit the boy as he spoke to friends.

An empty stroller, a bloody sidewalk and shell casings in the gutter marked Wednesday's shooting scene outside Gumbo Discount Supermarket in the 1600 block of Vernon Avenue

A 20-year-old woman, whom police did not identify, was talking to two men outside the supermarket about 10:30 a.m. when two men in a brown, mid-size sedan drove by. Shots were fired from several military-style weapons, police said.

The girl underwent surgery at County-USC Medical Center. "We think she is going to be fine," said Officer Sandra Escalante.

"This nonsense is going to stop," Deputy Chief Mike Hillmann of the Los Angeles Police Department said of the shooting of a child in broad daylight. "We are going to put more than a wrinkle in this gang."

In all three recent incidents, police believe gunmen targeted a nearby adult but hit the minors by mistake. Police declined to identify any of the victims.

The 5-year-old boy shot in the head was playing with his brother and friends Tuesday in his Sylmar backyard. Police said the boy was on a trampoline about 7 p.m. when his father called the boys in for dinner. The boy lingered, police said, and was hit in the head, the bullet lodging in his brain. He was airlifted to a hospital from a school campus near his family's home in the 15100 block of Nurmi Street.

Four homicide detectives were back in the neighborhood Wednesday, conducting door-to-door interviews, re-interviewing witnesses and conducting searches. "We have conflicting information," said Capt. Kirk Albanese. "We are not at a point we know what happened out there."

Detectives also are continuing to hunt for the killers of 13-year-old Jessy Lizaola, who was killed outside a friend's South Los Angeles home in a drive-by shooting that also left a 14-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man wounded, said Det. Jim Yoshida.

"It was close to midnight and he was standing outside talking to his friends when the shooting began," Yoshida said. Lizaola died at the scene in the 900 block of 43rd Place. The 14-year-old boy and the man remain hospitalized in stable condition.

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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