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Girl shot during Russian roulette stunt was trying to leave room when killed, police say [Updated]

May 24, 2010 |  2:28 pm

158805.ME.0524.teen-killed.
Norma Gamble was downstairs cooking dinner in her Mid-City home Sunday when she heard a gunshot upstairs.

She ran upstairs where a teenage boy who had been living with the family and two teenage girls were hanging out. She found one of the girls on the floor, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound in her lower back.

“My stomach hurts,” she said, keeled over. “Help me.”

Paramedics transported the petite teenage girl from the home in the 1800 block of Wellington Road to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. [Updated at 3:35 p.m.: Los Angeles County coroner's officials identified the dead girl as Alexis Wallace, 15. She died of a single gunshot wound to her back, according to coroner's records. Her death was listed as a homicide on the coroner's weekly report.]

Los Angeles Police Department detectives on Monday were still trying to piece together what happened. But detectives said the 16-year-old boy had been discussing Russian roulette and was loading and unloading a revolver as they girls watched.

Detectives said one of girls became uneasy as the boy kept playing with the gun. She stood to leave the room. As she was walking out, the boy pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger, not realizing there was a bullet in the chamber, police said.

When Gamble came across the bloody scene, she said, the boy was distraught, running around the room in a “chaotic state.” “The gun just went off,” he said in disbelief, throwing a handgun onto his bed.

“What do you mean? We don’t own any guns,” Gamble replied.

The boy had arrived at the gracious red-tile-roofed two-story home on a tree-lined street in the historic Lafayette Square section of Mid-City recently. Gamble said her brother, who lives with her in the home, had taken the boy in. He hoped the move from Compton would keep the teen out of trouble.

The teenager’s father had not been in the picture for years, family members said, and his mother lived in Compton. The family was hoping to give the boy a strong set of role models, and a safer neighborhood to live in. They described him as polite and peaceful.

“My brother had taken him in to give him a second chance, try and turn his life around. Teach him there’s more to life than what he’d seen: gangs, drugs, violence," said Byron Gamble, 53, another of Norma Gamble’s brothers. "You come here, you work hard, this is what you can achieve."

The boy, whose name was not released because of his age, was booked and taken to Eastlake Juvenile Hall, where he is being held without bail. When Norma Gamble saw the scene in the bedroom Sunday night, she immediately called police and applied pressure to the girl’s wound.

The other teenage girl ran down the stairs in a frenzy and was later found sitting in the middle of the street by Gamble’s niece. The boy was on his way out of the house when police arrived, stopping the 16-year-old and handcuffing him.

About a dozen relatives of the killed teen, who has not been identified, showed up at the home after midnight. Norma Gamble said the girl’s mother was frantic. “Do you know my daughter is only 15?” Gamble recalled the mother saying. “And now she’s dead.”

On Monday morning a large blood stain remained on the bare mattress in the boy's room. Gamble said she threw away the linens because they were soaked.

[For the Record, added at 10:15 p.m.: The photo caption with an earlier version of this post named the suspect in the shooting, who is a juvenile, and incorrectly referred to him as Norma Gamble's nephew. It is The Times’ practice not to identify suspects who are minors unless they have been charged as adults, and that portion of the caption has been removed. This version also corrects an earlier error, in which the area where the shooting occurred was incorrectly given.]

-- Robert Faturechi in Lafayette Square and Andrew Blankstein in Los Angeles

Photo: Norma Gamble, center,  receives a hug from a relative in front of her Los Angeles home. Credit: Christina House / For The Times


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