Shooting in San Pedro park stemmed from dispute, involving more than 50 gunshots, police say

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Days after two people were killed and seven injured in a shooting on Sunday in San Pedro’s Peck Park, authorities released new details about the violent incident amid festering residents’ concerns about the park’s safety and the liability of city officials.

Investigators believe the gunfire started with a dispute between two people who showed up to a softball game in the park, LAPD Capt. Adrian Gonzalez at a community meeting Tuesday night in San Pedro.

The softball league is set up to peacefully bring together members of different Crips sets, gang intervention leader Skipp Townsend told the The Bharat Express News this week.

“It was very specific individuals who either participated in the … contest or attended as spectators who were involved in the dispute,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t team-on-team against each other. It wasn’t gang-on-gang against each other. It was a few individuals that we identified that had a dispute, and they decided to take it to the park on Sunday afternoon.”

From there, he said, the shooting spilled over to a parking lot above the softball field and to an entrance to the park, where investigators found some people were shot while trying to flee.

More than 50 casings were recovered from the three scenes, Gonzalez said. Investigators have ruled out rifles and automatic firearms as possible weapons used during the shooting. No arrests have been made.

Police have recovered four handguns believed to be “involved in some aspect of this shooting violence,” LAPD chief Michel Moore said at a weekly meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday.

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Three men and four women were treated and transported by firefighters for their injuries, Los Angeles Fire Department assistant chief Jaime Moore said at the community meeting.

Two of the victims, who were identified Wednesday by the LA County coroner as Tashman Williams, 31, of Compton and Carlyle Phillips, 29, of Cypress, died in hospitals.

Authorities later learned that two additional people were injured but were not treated by firefighters and were taken privately to hospitals, Moore said.

In an interview with The Times, Andre “Low Down” Christian said he and a friend were talking to another participant in the softball game when the shooting started.

“Right after we had that conversation, you heard gunshots — pop, pop,” he said. “When the time came, you thought we were in Vietnam.”

Christian and his friend joined a crowd of people fleeing the gunfire, stumbling as they ran to a ditch for cover.

As they hid, Christian said, he looked up to see a man shot while trying to flee in a vehicle and crashed. That man died later; it is not known whether he was Williams or Phillips.

The crash created a blockade, Christian said, preventing other vehicles from departing and ambulances from reaching the victims.

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“So, people literally started wearing [injured] people from the back of the park to the front of the park, to the ambulances,” Christian said. “You had gang members who don’t get along on a regular basis, literally working together to carry these bodies.”

Moneke Howard, 57, said the men killed went to school with her son, and she considered herself their adopted mother, although she was not their official caregiver.

“They were close to my heart because I helped raise them,” she said. “I’m really, really torn and distraught over their deaths.”

Williams and Phillips were previously “involved in various activities that led to gang activity,” Howard said, but they now had families of their own and had changed their lives.

“It was the pressure of if you live in this neighborhood, you’re from this neighborhood,” she said. “You had to somehow join in to live, sort of.”

Both men had moved to Las Vegas several years ago and were visiting California at the time of their deaths, Howard said.

“They were living well, they were happy and they were out of the way,” she said. “They felt free not to have to look over their shoulders and worry that people would see them as people they weren’t.”

After the deadly shooting, gang interventions were aired immediately and remain involved in efforts to contain further violence, LAPD chief Moore said.

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At Tuesday’s community meeting, several people asked if the game’s organizers had gone through the proper permitting process for the city and if the police were there to keep an eye on the event.

Deanne Dedmon, acting chief of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the groups were licensed and insured, but only 100 people were allowed for the game; Police said they saw about 500 people trying to flee the shooting in the park. Officers were not assigned to monitor the game, but had checked it once and found it peaceful, police said.

All permits for Sunday events in the park have been revoked for the rest of the summer, Dedmon said.

Still, concerns among some residents continue to grow, with someone at the community meeting saying Peck Park has been a public safety issue for years.

LAPD Capt. Brent McGuyre said residents should expect a greater police presence in the area, with officers in patrol units and on bicycles, ATVs and horses.

“I know a lot about the sense of security, the sense of wonder that everyone should have, especially our kids, in the park, is kind of shattered,” McGuyre said. “Just know that in the near future, we’re trying to get that sense of security, that sense of community that surrounds this park.”

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