Alleged gang shootout forces closure of Compton youth academy

Jory Rand Image
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Alleged gang shootout forces closure of Compton youth academy
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Surveillance cameras captured a frightening shootout that broke out outside of a youth academy and daycare in Compton, sending children running for cover and forcing the program to shut down.

COMPTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Surveillance cameras captured a frightening shootout outside of a youth academy and daycare in Compton, sending children running for cover and forcing its programs for kids to shut down.

The incident happened last month outside of the LA City Wildcats youth academy on Rosecrans Avenue. The footage shows the shooters involved, who are believed to be members of rival gangs.

"It happened right here, and not one bullet hit a kid," said LA City Wildcats founder Derrick Cooper. "If that's not an act of god, I don't know what is. Not one bullet hit a kid."

Fortunately, there were no casualties but the academy where those children were playing and learning has been closed ever since. Cooper said he's unwilling to put the children at risk again.

"These kids are more than just kids in the Wildcat family, they become my extended family," said Cooper. "So when I lose a kid, I lose a family member."

It's happened nine times over the years. Most recently in July 2020 when rising basketball star Semaj Miller was shot and killed.

"I can't lose any more kids," said Cooper. "Burying a kid that you pick up, and watch them shoot basketball, or watch them shoot basketball, that's tough and I don't want to continue going through that."

The academy's programs, including sports, cheerleading, dance and even its after school activities and daycare, all of which Cooper created and has operated for more than two decades, have come to a halt.

The sudden shutdown pains Cooper, who has covered expenses for the programs and has even personally driven the students all over L.A.

"The kids who were being kept off the streets and away from violence by this program, have now lost their escape because violence found them," he said.

Cooper believes the community of Compton should invest more in its youth.

"Our parks are closed, we don't have parks and rec, we don't have your basketball leagues, or our football leagues," he said. "I've yet to meet our mayor. I really would like to meet her because I have some really good ideas. I think would help her bring back some life to our parks and recs and our youth."

In the meantime, Cooper is looking a new, safer location, and some help so that he can continue helping the children, and he's running out of time.

"I am actually out almost 7 weeks of income," he said. "So that hasn't been replenished, that hasn't been supported, and because of that, it's allowing us to get deeper and deeper in debt. Because when we open back up, we're going to have to move, we're going to have to stock supplies, do payroll, it's just a monster every time I think about it, but we'll find a way to get through this."

If you're interested in helping the LA City Wildcats program, you can donate to its official GoFundMe.

Meanwhile, the suspects in the shooting remain on the run.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Compton station at 310-605-6500.