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Teen killed in South L.A. shooting a ‘good kid,’ police say

September 26, 2012 |  9:26 am

Teen killed in South L.A. park shooting
The 19-year-old student gunned down in broad daylight Tuesday afternoon while he was sitting on a park bench was a well-known local volunteer described by police as a "good kid."

Patrick Caruthers applied for a job with the Summer Night Lights anti-gang program at Harvard Park. When he didn't get it, he volunteered for free, spending hours daily at the South Los Angeles park he grew up in.

"He was the one guy you would go to the park and see and he was always doing something positive," said Officer Gary Verge with LAPD's 77th division.

Caruthers, who had special needs, was killed Tuesday afternoon as he sat on a park bench. Detectives said a gunman ran up and opened fire and then fled in a compact car. Caruthers suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and was pronounced dead on the scene, detectives said.

"I can't see Patrick being a target," Verge said. "He was a staple in the park. He worked in the park for free. He was no gang-banger. He was just a fun-loving kid."

On a July visit to the park, known as the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center, Caruthers was seen happily working with younger students. He ran up to Verge, who had interviewed him for a position with the Summer Night Lights program, and proudly updated him on the work he was doing.

"I've been on the scene of a lot of shootings but hearing about this one really bothered me," Verge said. "He was a good kid."

Police said they believe 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," said LAPD Det. Chris Barling. "That is something a gang member would do."

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-- Angel Jennings

Photo: A makeshift memorial  for Patrick Caruthers at the park, known as the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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