$50,000 reward offered in murder of father-to-be outside South Los Angeles barbershop

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A $50,000 reward is being offered to help find the suspected gang member who shot and killed a father-to-be outside a barbershop in South Los Angeles last month.

Police announced the reward Thursday during a news conference where they also released surveillance video that shows the gunman in action.

Authorities say the suspect didn't notice that when he fired the fatal shot at an innocent victim his every move was being captured on a security camera.

Homicide investigators suspect the young man with a semi-automatic weapon is a gang member. Detectives say he fired at a group of nine men he didn't even know.

"It goes to the boldness of gangs and it goes to the, I would say, flippant attitude of not caring," LAPD Detective Christopher Barling said.

In the video, the young man in a gray-hooded sweatshirt fires at least eight times and hits one person.

Detectives say the victim, Robert Ellis, was not a gang member. Ellis, 27, had been waiting his turn for a haircut outside a barbershop at a strip center in the 5500 block of S. Vermont Avenue.

Ellis had grown up miles from South L.A. A ballplayer at Torrance High School, Ellis was training to become a barber and just happened to be in a gang area to tend to his grandmother's house.

Ellis' mother says he had just learned he was going to be a dad.

"It actually makes me really sad that we live in a society that people think it's OK to take a life," Lenell Ellis said in tears.

The video shows a group of men waiting in line to get into the barbershop at 2:15 p.m. on March 25. As bullets fly, they run for cover behind parked cars.

Detectives believe someone will easily recognize the gunman from the surveillance video.

Ellis' mother says there's another incentive to report the gunman: the threat he could pose to another innocent person.

"Its just blatant. The person just doesn't care," she said.

Police say none of the other men gathered near the barbershop were gang affiliated. They believe the shooter wrongly assumed they were rivals and fired in a tragic case of mistaken identity.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the LAPD's Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (323) 786-5113.
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