Crime & Justice

LA Sheriff's Dept. believes someone stole gun after fatal shooting of 16-year-old

Authorities say deputies responding to a report of a young man pointing a gun at motorists arrived and saw a handgun tucked into a teen's waistband. A foot chase ensued, and when he turned back toward them, they fired. No weapon was immediately found.
Authorities say deputies responding to a report of a young man pointing a gun at motorists arrived and saw a handgun tucked into a teen's waistband. A foot chase ensued, and when he turned back toward them, they fired. No weapon was immediately found.
Courtesy NBC4

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says it believes it failed to recover a gun from a suspect who was fatally shot in South L.A. Sunday evening because someone took the gun away before deputies could secure the scene.

A deputy fatally shot a 16-year-old boy during a foot chase in unincorporated Westmont, next to South L.A.

Capt. Chris Bergner, who oversees the homicide division at the Sheriff's Department, said two deputies responded to a 911 call Sunday evening reporting that a young man had stepped into the street and was waving a gun in the 1200 block of West 107th Street.

The deputies saw an individual they believed matched the description of the suspect: an African-American around 18 years old, wearing blue jeans and a dark t-shirt, said Bergner.

They believed they saw a gun in his waistband, and he ran away into the courtyard of a nearby apartment complex, he said.

That’s where the suspect turned towards the deputies, Bergner said, and failed to obey orders to put his hands up and get down on the ground. One deputy opened fire, according to Bergner. On Sunday, Sheriff's Lt. John Corina of the homicide division said the suspect was struck several times and died at the scene.

People came rushing out of apartments into the courtyard after the shooting and many were angry, said Bergner, adding that the deputies got nervous and called for backup. In the moments this happened, he said, officials believe someone lifted the gun and took it away.

The boy's mother, Demetra Johnson, spoke at a press conference late Monday afternoon.

"I need it to be known that my son was a good son," Johnson said. "He was a great brother. He had the biggest heart. He was a wonderful father. He has a 9-month-old daughter, Violet, that lights up every time he walked in the room. He didn't deserve this. He doesn't have that kind of heart that deserved this kind of killing."

This story has been updated.