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Cameras for park where teen was shot are stalled at City Hall

September 26, 2012 |  1:35 pm

South LA shooting
Security cameras expected to help combat gang crime at the South L.A. park where a teen was gunned down Tuesday afternoon have been stalled at City Hall.

The cameras were expected to go up in Harvard Park in August after officials learned reputed gang members shot a graphic music video inside the city-owned space. 

"It is totally unexpected and unexplained as to why this is back and forth and not in progress," said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who has lobbied for the cameras in his district. 

Parks said the issue has been stalled in the public safety committee since February over concerns about what type of cameras should be used and whether they are effective.

Patrick Caruthers, 19, was sitting on a park bench listening to music on his cellphone when a gunman ran up and opened fire at 3:15 p.m., then fled in a compact car.  He suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and was pronounced dead at the scene, detectives said.

Caruthers, who had special needs, volunteered at the park for years before getting a summer position with the Summer Night Lights, an anti-gang program, at the park.

"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.

Officials said they hoped the cameras would deter violence at the renovated park.  For years, a Blood street gang has claimed the South L.A. park as their own. Members would often guard the entrance, denying access to neighbors and construction crews.

But recently, things seemed to make a turnaround.  Residents started taking lessons at the tennis court and frequenting the swimming pool.  The youngsters would try out their skills on the skate ramp.  The cameras, Parks said, were the last step needed to ensure safety.

"This is a major step backward," he said.  "Because the general public is going to be fearful again."


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-- Angel Jennings

Photo: Elizabeth Banuelos, 20, a friend of Patrick Caruthers, mourns his death at a makeshift memorial on Wednesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times