Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Los Angeles: 3 African-American gang members have been charged with killing 3 Latinos

Richard Winton:

Prosecutors charged three black gang members today with killing two Latino boys and an adult as they talked in the frontyard of their South Los Angeles home last year, saying the assailants picked the victims at random because they could not find any gang rivals to shoot.

The charges cap a nearly one-year investigation, with detectives concluding that the members of the Rollin' 30s gang fired on the victims -- who had no gang ties -- while driving around the neighborhood looking for members of another gang, the Eastside Treys.

The shooting stirred concerns about race-related violence in South L.A., especially at a time when the LAPD says that race-motivated gang crimes are on the increase. But the Los Angeles Police Department insists that the shooting was not race-motivated, rather it was fueled by a gang feud.

The gunmen -- identified as Ryan T. Moore, Lawrence William Island Jr. and Charles Ray Smith -- fired more than 30 rounds from two AK-47 assault rifles on a June 30 afternoon after climbing out of a vehicle.

David Marcial, 10; his 22-year-old uncle, Larry Marcial; and a neighbor, Luis Cervantes, 17, were fatally shot outside their families' homes in the 1100 block of East 49th Street.

David's brother, Sergio Marcial Jr., 12, was wounded but survived the shooting described by investigators as an "execution."

Moore, 33, and Island, 24, were to be arraigned this afternoon downtown. Smith, 37, is a fugitive wanted on a murder arrest warrant.

Each of the three faces three counts of murder, with the special circumstance of multiple murder and murder to further a gang, and one count each of attempted premeditated murder.

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said a decision on whether to seek the death penalty will be made by prosecutors later.

Both Moore and Smith have been in custody for several months on other charges while detectives tried to build a case.

The Rollin' 30s is one of the top 11 gangs being targeted by the LAPD as part of a wider push against gang violence in the city.

Dubbed the "49th Street massacre" by Chief William J. Bratton last summer, detectives determined that what at first looked like a drive-up shooting now appeared to be a calculated, execution-style slaying. They concluded that the gunmen got out of a car and approached each of the victims, firing from point-blank range with AK-47 assault-style rifles.

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