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One dead after Gardena shooting, LAPD says

February 20, 2011 | 12:45 pm

A man in his 20s died of a gunshot wound to the head early Sunday in the backseat of a car as his friends drove around looking for a hospital to treat him, authorities said.

The man and his friends had just gotten into the car at 11400 South Vermont Avenue in Gardena and were preparing to leave at about 1:18 a.m. when multiple shots were fired into the car, according to Los Angeles Police Officer Bruce Borihanh and Lt. Larry Barr. It was not clear whether the shots were fired by someone in another car or on foot, Barr said.

The man’s friends moved him to the backseat and began to drive, searching for a hospital nearby, Barr said.

Several hospitals with emergency rooms are located within three miles of where the shooting occurred, including Memorial Hospital of Gardena, Community Hospital of Gardena and Centinela Hospital Medical Center. It was not clear why the men did not drive to those hospitals or call 911 from the car, Barr said. He said he was not sure whether the men had a cellphone.

“They drove quite a distance,” Barr said. “They were trying very hard to get assistance.”

The men drove for at least four miles, then stopped at a service station at 154th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard, Borihanh said. They asked the clerk at the station to call 911. Paramedics responded and declared the shooting victim dead at the scene, Barr and Borihanh said.

The victim’s name had not been released Sunday. Police do not believe the shooting was gang-related, Borihanh said.

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske