Family Christmas party ends with grandmother being killed by stray gunfire
LONG BEACH -- A man shot to death by two police officers was found to have pointed a pistol-grip water nozzle at them rather than a weapon, the police chief said Monday at a news conference marked by sobs from the victim's relatives.
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SANTA MONICA ( KTLA) -- Celebrity chef Juan Carlos Cruz has been sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly trying to hire homeless men in a plot to murder his wife.
Their annual Christmas dinner with fellow military families at an Inglewood park had just wrapped up, and Jose Taylor Jr. and his wife of 40 years were loading leftovers and their grandchildren's toys into the car. Gwen, 61, was on her way to get the last of their stuff when she tripped over the curb and collapsed.
Taylor thought his wife had fainted –- too many helpings, maybe.
“Poppy, get Granny off of me!” their youngest grandson, 5, shouted. Gwen was holding the boy’s hand when she fell and had pinned his small leg to the ground on her way down. Smoke from what sounded like firecrackers going off nearby blew away in the breeze.
Taylor pulled the child’s leg free and rolled his wife over. Her patterned black blouse, reserved for pictures and special occasions, was pierced and bloody. The suddenly frenzied Saturday after noon crowd ran off in the other direction. “Come on, Gwen, talk to us,” Taylor shouted, as his grandchildren, 12, 8, and 5, looked on.
The bullet that hit her must have passed just inches over the youngest boy’s head, Taylor estimated. “I’m gonna be all right,” Gwen said.
“And then her eyes rolled back. And that’s the last we heard from her. I’m still slapping myself. It’s like a dream. Forty years together,” Taylor said Monday, surrounded by family in his cramped South L.A. home.
His wife was rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed surgery -- quart after quart of blood transfused just to bleed out again.
Authorities say her killing was random; she was caught in the crossfire of what appears to have been a gang shooting.
A man walking through the parking lot had pulled out a handgun and started shooting, police said. His target, a 16-year-old boy, was able to duck behind a parked car, but stray bullets struck Gwen Taylor and an unrelated 15-year-old boy, who was treated and released.
The intended victim has been interviewed by police, but the shooter is still at large.
-- Robert Faturechi