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Gang killing

April 19, 2008 | 12:14 pm


April 19, 1958

Los Angeles

1955_1128_kow_kong

1958_0419_sumiiOne gang was called the Cogents. The other was called the Black Wongs. At least that's what The Times said. We don't know much more than that except someone died in a fight outside the Kow Kong Benevolent Assn., 510 N. Bernard St.

His name was Richard Sumii, 16, 3106 N. 9th Ave. It isn't clear whether he was a member of the Black Wongs or the Cogents or whether he was even in a gang. All we know is that he was an honor student at Dorsey High.

Using The Times stories to reconstruct what happened is bit like reassembling an ancient pot based on a few shards. Unfortunately, there isn't much to go on.

Apparently there was a gang fight outside the Kow Kong center, where a dance was being held. Louis T. Yamashiro, 17, 912 S. Valencia, and Takeshi Masukawa, 18, went to Masukawa's home at 568 N. Virgil Ave., got a .45 and returned to the center. According to The Times, Yamashiro pulled the .45 from his friend's waistband and was waving it around when the gun went off, killing Sumii.

Unfortunately, that's all we have. The Times wrote nothing about a trial. Why Japanese American kids were at a Chinese youth center is something the newspaper never addressed.

California death records show that Louis Tsuneo Yamashiro died June 6, 1985, at the age of 44.

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