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College student killed in gang-style shooting in South L.A.

September 25, 2012 | 11:25 pm

Police have identified the victim of a gang-style shooting Tuesday in South Los Angeles as a 19-year-old college student with no known gang ties.

Patrick Caruthers, who attended L.A. Trade Tech and volunteered at the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center, was sitting on a park bench when a man walked up and opened fire about 3:15 p.m. Caruthers suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.

The shooting occurred at the park that includes the recreation center, in the 1500 block of West 62nd Street.

“We believe it was gang-related based on the suspect’s action,” said LAPD Det. Chris Barling. The shooter “thought he was targeting a gang member. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, somebody doesn’t walk up and shoot somebody on a park bench. That is something a gang member would do.”

The shooting occurred at a time when many children and others would have been enjoying the park, which has a gymnasium/auditorium, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, a football field, picnic tables, a soccer field and tennis courts.

Caruthers, a resident of the neighborhood, helped out as a volunteer in the Summer Night Lights program, an anti-gang effort to provide activities for youths during the evening. He died at the scene.

KCAL-TV (Channel 9) interviewed his mother, identified as Gail Sears.

"Patrick didn’t have any enemies. He didn’t bother anybody," Sears said. "His love was music and going to church. He loved church.”

She described her son as having had to overcome a learning disability and a speech impediment and as having recently graduated from nearby Manual Arts High School.

"He was not involved in any crime of any nature," she said. "He was just a child trying to live his life."

The assailant fled on foot to a waiting dark compact car. Initial reports described the car as having four doors, but there were conflicting eyewitness accounts. The first police statement also mistakenly referred to the shooting as a drive-by.

The car with the suspect drove west on 62nd and then turned south on Denker Avenue.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call (800) 222-TIPS or homicide detectives at (213) 485-1383.

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-- Howard Blume

Video credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5

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