Racially charged slaying of Cedars-Sinai nurse haunts Azusa
The unsolved slaying more than a decade ago of a black nurse who worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center still haunts Azusa as a symbol of racially charged crimes.
"That's one of the ones that still kind of haunts us," said Azusa Police Sgt. Bruce Badoni, who was among officers called to the scene after the shooting of Ge'Juan Sallee.
To police, Sallee was an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had no gang ties and did not live in Azusa. The 24-year-old was the pride of his family. He had graduated from nursing school when he was 19 and moved from Ohio to Los Angeles to look for a job. Later, he bought a house in Covina -- in part to get away from the crime of the city -- and moved his mother, Carol Sallee, out to live with him.
On the afternoon of Aug. 8, 2000, Sallee and his cousin went to a store in Azusa to find some parts for the radio in Sallee's classic 1968 Oldsmobile Delta. They had left the store and were about to get back in the car when some people drove into the lot and opened fire without warning.
Sallee was shot in the head and died at the hospital.
Badoni said the hate-crime investigations, like many involving the Azusa 13 gang, were stymied by the lack of witnesses willing to cooperate with police. Authorities believed he was killed because he was black, possibility by a Latino gang that was targeting blacks during that time.
Federal authorities charged members of the Azusa 13 gang earlier this month, but the charges did not include the Sallee killing.
-- Abby Sewell in Azusa
Photo: One of the people associated with the Azusa 13 street gang is in cuffs earlier this month. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times