San Pedro park shooting stemmed from dispute, police say

Days after a shooting in San Pedro’s Peck Park killed two and injured seven, authorities released new details about the violent incident amid simmering concerns from local residents about the park’s safety and the accountability of city officials.

Investigators believe the shooting began with an argument between two people who showed up for a softball game at the park, LAPD Capt. Adrian Gonzalez said at a community meeting Tuesday night in San Pedro.

The softball league was formed to peacefully bring together members of different Crips sets, gang interventionist Skipp Townsend told the Associated Press this week.

“It was very specific individuals who were either attending the … game or were there as spectators who were involved in the argument,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t team versus team versus each other. It wasn’t a gang-on-gang against each other. It was a couple of people that we identified who were having an argument and they decided to take it to the park on Sunday afternoon.”

From there, he said, the shooting escalated to a parking lot above the softball field and to a park entrance, where investigators learned some people were shot trying to escape.

More than 50 shell 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 were made.

Police have seized four handguns that are believed to have been “involved in some aspects of this shooting violence,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said during a weekly Los Angeles Police Commission meeting on Tuesday.

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

Two of the victims, 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 other people were injured but were not treated by firefighters and were taken to hospitals privately, 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 began.

“Right after we had this conversation, you just heard gunshots — pop, pop,” he said. “When it started, people thought we were in Vietnam.”

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

As they hid, Christian said he looked up to see a man being shot while trying to escape in a vehicle and falling. This man later died; It is not known if he was Williams or Phillips.

The accident caused a traffic jam, Christian said, preventing other vehicles from leaving and preventing ambulances from reaching the victims.

“So people literally started carrying [injured] People from the back of the park to the front of the park to the ambulances,” Christian said. “They had gang members who don’t get along regularly and literally work together to carry these bodies.”

Moneke Howard, 57, said the men killed went to school with her son and she considered herself their adoptive mother even though she wasn’t their official caretaker.

“I grew very fond of them because I helped raise them,” she said. “I’m really, really torn and devastated by her death.”

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 lives.

“It was the pressure, if you live in this neighborhood, then you’re from this neighborhood,” she said. “You had to be in some fad to live, pretty much.”

Both men had relocated to Las Vegas a few years earlier and were visiting California at the time of their deaths, Howard said.

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

After the fatal shooting, the gangs’ interventionists were immediately dispatched and remain involved in efforts to stem further violence, LAPD chief Moore said.

At Tuesday’s community meeting, several people questioned whether the game’s organizers had gone through the city’s proper permitting process and whether the police were on hand to monitor the event.

Deanne Dedmon, acting superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the groups had permits and insurance, but only 100 people were allowed to play; Police said they saw about 500 trying to flee the park shooting. Officials were not assigned to monitor the game but checked it once and found it to be peaceful, police said.

All permits for Sunday events at the park have been canceled for the remainder of the summer, Dedmon said.

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

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

“I know a lot about that sense of security, that sense of wonder that everyone should have, especially our kids, in the park, got a little shaken,” McGuyre said. “In the immediate future, you just have to know that we’re trying to push back that sense of security, that sense of community that surrounds this park.” San Pedro park shooting stemmed from dispute, police say

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