The LAPD announced an arrest Thursday night in a shooting at a South Los Angeles bus stop at Vernon and Central 24 hours earlier. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was at the police news conference, and gave Shirley Jahad details on the incident and the suspect.
Shirley Jahad: Good afternoon, I'm Shirley Jahad. This is 89.3, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio. It's 6:20. Police have arrested now a 24-year-old man for allegedly opening fire at that crowded bus stop yesterday afternoon in south Los Angeles. Several children are among the eight people who were hurt. Police say the man is a gang member in the area and was trying to build a rep for himself as an enforcer. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has been covering the story and joins us now live. Hello Adolfo.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Hi, Shirley.
Jahad: So, you've been there at the news conference with the mayor and Chief Bratton. They say the gunman was shooting through a crowd to try and hit a particular person? Tell us more about what happened and the man they got.
Guzman-Lopez: Well, they arrested Billy Ray Hines, a 24-year-old, who's a Crip gang member. They know this because they found his name in a state gang database. And they say that he shot 15 rounds from an automatic handgun, intending to shoot a couple of people. Now, police didn't say whether those people were at the bus stop yesterday at the time, but they did give some of the details about the suspect that they've arrested. They say he's on probation for burglary, so he does have an arrest record.
Jahad: Tell us how police nabbed this guy. There were dozens, if not a hundred people in the area, right? Witnesses?
Guzman-Lopez: There were some eyewitnesses, Shirley. There were also surveillance cameras at businesses around where the shooting took place. And there's also, police are also taking a look at surveillance video from a bus that was driving by there. But from one of the videos, detectives were able to identify Billy Ray Hines. And also, eyewitnesses helped. Public officials here, the mayor, as well as L.A. Councilwoman Jan Perry praised the people who came forward to tell what they saw.
Jahad: Now, we're talking about the corner of Vernon and Central. It's a couple miles southeast of Memorial Coliseum. Tell people who might not know that area, tell us a little bit about that area.
Guzman-Lopez: Well, it's an area that's gone through a lot of changes in recent decades. Probably about 40, 50 years ago, it was predominantly a black neighborhood. This is Central Avenue. This is the area where, 50 years ago, was known as the center of jazz and the black community in Los Angeles. Over the last 20 years, this area has undergone a massive demographic change.
It's mostly a Latino area, there's still a significant population of African-Americans, and there are a lot of gangs. Latino gangs, there are black gangs, and they are constantly warring with each other over turf, over drug dealing, that sort of thing. Some of the notable gang conflict in recent months has been a little bit east of here, in the Firestone area, and so that's a little bit of the cross-section of this area. If you drive around here, during daylight, you see one story homes, you see schools, you see businesses. Around three o'clock in the afternoon, lots of kids going home from school, and that's around the time that the shooting happened yesterday.
Jahad: Any sense of how the community is reacting after this shooting?
Guzman-Lopez: Well, the mayor said that the shots fired yesterday reverberated throughout the community, that really this has shaken up a lot of people. Councilwoman Jan Perry is calling a town hall meeting on Tuesday at Carver Middle School, near where the shooting took place, to bring together residents in the area.
She made the announcement in English and Spanish, really trying to outreach to as many people as possible in this community. And people are afraid around here. People do say that they hear gunshots periodically, but the public officials here today praised the residents for coming forward and trying to identify this shooter.
Jahad: Thank you very much, Adolfo.
Guzman-Lopez: Thank you, Shirley.