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1 killed, 1 wounded in shooting at park

August 24, 2008|Jason Song | Times Staff Writer

A 40-year-old man was shot and killed Saturday morning and a 20-year-old man with him was wounded after an argument broke out at a children's football game at a Reseda park.

The incident, which took place shortly after 10:30 a.m. at Reseda Park and Recreation Center, began with an argument between two groups of people watching the game being played by 9- and 10-year-olds, said Michel Moore, deputy chief of operations for the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Bureau.

Moore, speaking at an afternoon news conference at the park, said the two groups in the dispute were asked to leave by others attending the game.

The groups had walked about 200 feet away from the playing field and were still arguing when a man began shooting, Moore said. The 40-year-old who later died collapsed where the shooting took place, and the 20-year-old walked back toward the game before falling to the ground.

"This is shocking for the community," Moore said. "My belief is we will be able to identify" the shooters.

There had been confusion about the possibility of additional victims, but Moore said no other people were wounded. He also said the incident may have involved gang members.

LAPD Officer Kate Lopez said the men who were shot were taken to a hospital, where the 40-year-old man died. County coroner's officials did not identify him.

The 20-year-old man needed surgery for his injuries.

"We're hopeful he will survive," Moore said, adding that he did not know what, if any, relationship there was between the victims.

LAPD officials later said the man was in stable condition.

Authorities said they were searching for two men who were seen leaving in a black sport utility vehicle.

Gary Braithwaite, 56, of Tustin was reading a newspaper in his car near the park's tennis courts when he said he heard what sounded like six gunshots.

"It happened real quick," Braithwaite said. "I didn't even have a chance to look, to see what happened."

Braithwaite, who used to live in the area and practiced with his band at the park when he was a child, said it was his first trip back in 40 years. He had gone to the park to meet a friend he had promised to help with a project.

"I thought it was a nice quiet place. . . . It's strange to hear a shooting here," he said.

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jason.song@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.

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