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Police identify downtown shooting victim, ask for public's help in tracking down gunman

April 16, 2010 |  1:34 pm

Los Angeles police detectives identified the victim of a fatal shooting in downtown early Friday as a well-liked skid row resident and are asking for the public’s help in finding his assailant. 

Conrad Fitzgerald Phillip, 41, known by the nickname, Dread, for the long dreadlocks he wore, was discovered with a fatal gunshot wound to the head outside a skateboard shop at Los Angeles and 6th streets about 5:15 a.m., police said.

The victim was a “well-known and well-liked” resident of the area who lived at various lodges and motels over the years, said Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A security guard working nearby heard the gunshot and noticed a man running near the intersection toward Main Street, Vernon said. The security guard then discovered Phillip’s body on the west side of the sidewalk, he said.

“Despite the early hour, we know there were many people in the area who saw this happen,” Vernon said.  “We’ve already had several persons come forward with information, but we need more.”

In the wake of the shooting, officers set up a square-mile perimeter to try to find the suspect, who was described as a black man, about 6 feet tall, weighing 180 to 200 pounds and wearing an Army-style jacket.

Vernon said officers retraced the route of the suspect’s escape and detained a man a few minutes after the shooting on Main Street. That man, who is on parole, had no gun. 

Detectives interviewed him at the police station, then released him without charge. 

“He was quite cooperative,” Vernon added.

This shooting was the second murder downtown this year. Last year five homicides happened downtown, including a double murder. The last fatal street shooting occurred in November when a woman shot another woman in a dispute on San Julian Street, just three blocks east of Friday morning’s shooting, Vernon said.

“Unlike 20 years ago when we had nearly 50 murders a year downtown,” Vernon said, “I can count on one hand the annual number of shootings and murders downtown. That’s a big change for the better.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD Det. Al Marengo of the Central Homicide Unit at (213) 842-0727. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477

-- Richard Winton