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3 arrested after LAPD pursuit kills girl

June 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Three men were arrested after an LAPD pursuit ended in a crash that killed a 6-year-old girl in Lake View Terrace on Thursday.The family of Kayla Woods was inconsolable. Kayla was outside playing with two other children when a police chase entered their neighborhood and killed her.

Neighbors were home cooking dinner when they heard police sirens getting closer. They said they went outside to check on the children, and they realized Kayla was not with the other children.

"We started to look for her, and then everybody looked around, and then we didn't even know she was there until then. So I haven't slept," said Bonnie, a neighbor.

The pursuit of a red Ford Focus began at about 6:30 p.m. when police tried to stop a vehicle after officers say they witnessed a drug deal. The chase only lasted two minutes, during which the suspects threw two handguns out of the car.

The driver, 32-year-old Aaron Rojas of Panorama City, was speeding northbound on Fenton Lane when he slammed on the brakes and crashed at the corner of Birch Grove Lane and Fenton Lane.

Skid marks from the vehicle could be seen stretching down Fenton Lane up to a wall, where Kayla was pinned. She later died from her injuries at a local hospital.

LAPD officers arrested two passengers from the vehicle right away, but Rojas fled from the vehicle and eluded police for more than an hour. He was later found in the neighborhood hiding in a garbage can.

Kayla's grieving mother, Sarah Woods, wore her daughter's sweater on Friday.

"I just can't believe she's gone," she said while sobbing. Sarah Woods said her daughter was smart and loved to draw. Kayla also loved to sing, especially songs by country singer Taylor Swift.

"She told me, 'Mommy can you curl my hair? I just want to be like Taylor Swift. Mommy, if she's going to have a concert, I'm going to bring you if it's here in L.A.,'" Sarah Woods said.

The Woods family is coping with the loss of their daughter and trying to explain the death to Kayla's 4-year-old brother. Kayla's father said he doesn't blame the LAPD, saying police have a job to do.

"I just want Kayla, that's it," Sarah Woods said. "I don't care about the police."

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa extended his condolences to the family on Friday.

"I can tell you we're going to look into how the chase was conducted. We do that on a routine basis, it's important. We're going to lift every rock and look underneath and make sure we did everything appropriately," Villaraigosa said.

Police said they're always balancing the decision to pursue suspects, and in this case, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the suspects are entirely at fault for the tragic accident.

Rojas is being held on $150,000 bail. He is accused of felony evading resulting in death. The other two suspects are being charged with drugs and weapons violations.


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