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Learning-disabled teen gunned down in South LA park

September 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A learning-disabled teenager was shot dead as he sat on a park bench in South Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. Detectives said a suspect ran up, opened fire with a handgun and then fled in a car.

The shooting happened around 3 p.m. in the park next to the Jackie Tatum / Harvard Recreation Center. Patrick Caruthers, 19, was sitting at a picnic table with his headphones on when a dark-colored sedan pulled up. One suspect got out and opened fire on Caruthers, hitting him multiple times.

"He was sitting right there listening to his music," said Caruthers' friend, Semaj Smith. "Stupid drive-by, and it's not fair."

Caruthers died at the scene. Police said Caruthers had no gang ties.

"Not gang related at all," said Los Angeles Police Det. Chris Barling. "Clearly, we believe the suspects, based on their actions, were gang members. Unfortunately, that neighborhood is comprised of different black and Hispanic gangs."

Smith said she doesn't understand why Caruthers was targeted. Caruthers was well-known in the neighborhood and volunteered at the park and the city's Summer Night Lights program.

"He wasn't affiliated in anything but church and the kids in this park. He loved the kids in this park," she said.

Friends said Caruthers never let his learning disability stop him and was proud to be attending Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

Investigators said the park was full of people and full of potential witnesses who could help them catch the killer.

"We're hoping somebody saw more than what information we have now that can help us solve this case," Barling said. "We don't solve these cases without the community's help, so we're really looking for people to step up and try to help us."

Anyone with information on the case was asked to call the LAPD at (877) 527-3247.


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