Crime & Justice

Watts housing development experiences first homicide in almost two years

Imperial Courts in Watts was once considered one of the most dangerous parts of L.A.
Imperial Courts in Watts was once considered one of the most dangerous parts of L.A.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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On Sunday morning at about 4:30, a man was standing outside the Imperial Courts housing development in Watts, when someone walked up and shot him, Los Angeles police said. 

The man, whose name has not been released pending family notification, is the 19th person murdered in Southeast Los Angeles this year, according to the most recently available numbers. He's also the first to be killed in Imperial Courts — once one of the most dangerous places in the city — since August 28, 2011.

That's when LAPD started its Community Safety Partnership project, a grant-funded program that puts 10 community policing officers in each of three housing developments in Watts: Imperial Courts, Jordan Downs, and Nickerson Gardens. The partnership is also in place in Ramona Gardens in Boyle Heights. The program also uses intervention workers from the the city's Gang Reduction and Youth Development office, as well as personnel from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.

LAPD has credited the partnership with helping reduce violence in the toughest housing developments in Los Angeles. Since its inception, violent crime is down 53 percent in Jordan Downs, 72 percent in Nickerson Gardens, and 74 percent in Imperial Courts. Until Sunday, the developments had not seen a single homicide since the partnership started.

"We're sad and disappointed," said Phil Tingirides, captain of LAPD's Southeast Station, which encompasses Watts. Tingirides said it's too early to know if the homicide was gang related, but LAPD's Gang Homicide Unit is investigating the case. Intervention workers have also been dispatched to the area to help prevent any potential retaliations, police said.