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LA area community reels as shootings kill three in less than 24 hours

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES - The community of Willowbrook on Saturday was grappling with the aftermath of back-to-back deadly shootings: one involving the deputy shooting of a Black man on Friday afternoon, and the other involving two teenage boys found shot to death after a car crash the night before.

As Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives investigated the shootings, tensions ran high among many area residents who struggled to cope with the anxiety over the burst of violent crime in their neighborhood southeast of downtown.

Throughout the day Saturday, dozens of people gathered at a curbside memorial of candles and rap music across the street from usually placid Mona Park and a neighborhood fence where Fred Williams III, 25, was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after a brief chase.

Among them was Sandy Hendrix, 57, a neighbor who had known Williams since he was a young boy.

Nodding toward the park playground and trying not to cry, she recalled, "I used to push him on the swing right over there. He loved that, and so did I. I never dreamed that he would one day be fatally shot by police less than a block away from that swing set."

Another was Lisa Smith, 52, a witness who referred to Williams as "my baby."

 

"A lot of us were just chilling in the park parking lot when deputies rolled up in a squad car," she said. Assuming their arrival spelled trouble for the group, she said, "we started running."

"A policeman started running on foot after Fred and, seconds later, Fred disappeared around a corner," she recalled. "Then I heard four shots. Pop, pop, pop, pop."

Sheriff's officials say deputies were conducting a routine patrol check of Mona Park when they noticed a group of 10 to 15 people, one of whom "was holding a firearm in his hand."

"When the suspect saw the deputies," a spokesman for the department said, "he immediately ran out of the parking lot headed south."

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