A teen who volunteered at gang-prevention programs was gunned down in a "gang-style" slaying at the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center Tuesday afternoon.
Police described Patrick Caruthers, 19, as a "good kid" who applied for a job with the Summer Night Lights anti-gang initiative and then volunteered his time to the program when he didn't get accepted.
"I've been on the scene of a lot of shootings but hearing about this one really bothered me," said Los Angeles police officer Gary Verge to the Los Angeles Times. "He was a good kid."
Officer Verge went on to disavow any notion that Caruthers was caught up in gang life, adding, "He was no gang-banger. He was just a fun-loving kid."
And while Caruthers did not have any gang ties, his shooting does appear to be gang related, said the LAPD in an official statement. He was sitting on a park bench at around 3:15 p.m. when someone approached him and shot him in the torso several times. The suspect was seen running back to a waiting car, which then drove west on 62nd Street and southbound on Denker Avenue, notes the LAPD blog.
While there is no description of the suspect, police described the getaway car as a "dark colored compact vehicle" and notes that police are on the hunt for the suspect and murder weapon.
Caruthers was a student at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College and had graduated from Manual Arts High School.
His mother, Gail Sears, spoke with KCAL9 about how Caruthers worked hard to overcome his learning disability and speech impediment.
"He fought hard at everything he did ... but he was determined to be functional and just be a person, just like everybody else," said Sears to KCAL9.
Sears also said that her son loved music and church. "Patrick didn't have any enemies. He didn't bother anybody," said Sears to KCAL9. "All he did was try to have him a life."
Friends of Caruthers expressed disbelief and shock at his violent death.
"He was articulate. He didn't bother nobody," said Larry Gibson to NBC LA. "He went to school, he played piano and the drums for the church every Sunday. He didn't bother a soul."
Bryan Smith, another friend of Caruthers, expressed disgust at the suspect. "He's sitting right here with his backpack with earphones in his ear, not even worried about no gang banging, no nothing," said Smith to NBC LA. "But you're still gonna walk up on him and shoot him."
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Readers with any information about the shooting are urged to call the LAPD Criminal Gang/Homicide Division. Either Detective Lyman Doster or Stacey Szymkowiak can be reached at (213) 485-1383. Click here for more information on how to leave tips anonymously and who to call during non-business hours.