Brazen gang shooting at park prompts calls for more policing
Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks issued a passionate plea to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, asking for a "highly-visible police presence" in a South L.A. park where a teenager was fatally shot earlier this week.
Patrick Caruthers was sitting on a bench at Harvard Park on Tuesday afternoon listening to music when a gunman opened fire in broad daylight. Police believe the 19-year-old may have been mistaken for a gang member.
Caruthers, who had a learning disability, was a longtime volunteer at the park.
"A highly-visible police presence will be welcomed at the faculty, as concerned community members gather for upcoming vigils and a weekend remembrance of Patrick," Parks wrote in the letter to Beck.
Parks described the park as "under siege" by a Bloods street gang. Members would often guard the entrance, denying access to neighbors and construction crews. Reputed gang members even shot a graphic music video inside the park, which prompted Parks to push for the installation of surveillance cameras.
"I am asking you to continue assisting my office in our ongoing effort to wrestle this park away from the clutches of street gangs and deliver it back to the community where it belongs," he said.
The brazen killing prompted another call for security cameras in the troubled park.
The cameras were expected to be operating this summer, but the issue has been stalled at City Hall since February.
A couple of hours before Caruthers died Tuesday, Councilman Mitch Englander, chairman of the public safety committee, had forwarded the initiative to the City Council for final approval, he said in a statement.
An equipment issue that had been holding it up "seems to have been resolved," Englander said in an email to The Times.
The cameras might not have prevented Caruthers' slaying, but Parks said they would probably have provided leads for police, and maybe even images of the suspects.
The Los Angeles Police Department has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of suspects involved in the shooting.
-- Angel Jennings
Photo: A makeshift memorial for Patrick Caruthers has been set up at the park, known as the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times