Southern California breaking news and trends

19-year-old alleged gang member arrested in July 4 killing of Unique Russell

unique russell

José Martinez/KPCC

Unique Russell, 14, was fatally shot on July 4 as she watched fireworks in the Westmont neighborhood.

Michael Stanton

José Martinez/KPCC

Michael Staton, 19, was arrested this morning in connection with Russell's killing and charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and an additional charge related to his gang involvement.

unique russell presser

José Martinez/KPCC

Russell's mother, Donna Wade (center) stands next to County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (right) at a Dec. 14 press conference during which the sheriff's department announced Michael Staton's arrest.


L.A. County Sheriff's homicide detectives have arrested a suspected gang member in connection with the murder of 14-year-old Unique Russell, who was fatally shot on the Fourth of July while she was watching fireworks in South Los Angeles.

Michael Staton, 19, was arrested in Compton Friday morning and charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and an additional charge related to his gang involvement.

Staon, who goes by the moniker "Crypto," is being held on $4 million bail.

At a Friday morning news conference, Lt. Mike Rosson of the sheriff's Homicide Bureau said there didn't appear to be a discernible motive.

"It was a senseless act of violence, and it tragically took Unique's life from her," he said.

Investigators also recovered two weapons – a .22 caliber revolver and a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol – at an apartment building near 102nd Street and Budlong Avenue. They say the weapons may have been used in the shooting.

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