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Teen gunned down at South L.A. park in gang-style shooting

September 26, 2012 |  7:36 am

Los Angeles police are investigating the death of a 19-year-old student and volunteer who was sitting on a park bench when a man walked up and shot him.

Patrick Caruthers attended L.A. Trade Technical College and volunteered at the park's Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center. He was shot multiple times about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday and died at the scene.

The park is in the 1500 block of West 62nd Street in South Los Angeles.

“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 when many children and others would have been at 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.

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, which drove west on 62nd and then turned south on Denker Avenue.

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

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-- Howard Blume

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