A gunman who shot five children and three adults was arrested Wednesday afternoon after an extensive search by police.
Billy Ray Hines, a 24-year-old gang member from Gardena, was charged Monday with 15 felonies, including attempted murder and assault with a firearm after he opened fire on crowd with a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun.
The incident occurred at the corner of Vernon and Central Avenues, where children and adults were waiting for a bus when shots rang out. Residents said that the area is rife with gang activity.
Hines was allegedly aiming at two intended victims when he opened fire, but he missed his targets, according to police.
Four children ranging in age from 10 to 14 were grazed by bullets, as were a 49-year-old woman and two men, ages 48 and 68. Six victims remained hospitalized late Wednesday, including three children. The children wounded in the attack all attend George Washington Carver Middle School.
A 12-year old girl, the most seriously wounded, was shot through the chest and was in stable condition at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles late Wednesday.
According to LAPD spokesman Lt. Ruben de la Torre, Hines is a member of the 48th Street Crips gang.
Hines allegedly saw two members of a rival gang near the Jack in the Box fast food restaurant at Vernon and Central Avenues and opened fire. The gang members escaped, but the bullets sprayed the crowd at the bus stop, wounding the victims.
We caught Hines with good old fashioned detective work, said De la Torre. Our gang enforcement detail unit interviewed victims and witnesses, and we examined surveillance tapes that we obtained from nearby merchants. Our detail unit knew the area very well and they were able to pin the crime to this individual based on information people provided.
De la Torre said that police saw the suspect walking down the street near where the incident occurred and started a surveillance of Hines. After obtaining a warrant, the police were able to arrest the suspect.
Councilmember Jan Perry, who introduced a motion last week calling for more federal funds for public safety in South Los Angeles, held a community meeting Wednesday to discuss public safety concerns arising from the shooting. On Tuesday, Perry held a press conference near the site where the incident occurred. Before the suspect was caught, Perry announced an reward of $75,000 for the suspects capture.
I cant tell you how angry I am. The person who did this had a reckless, wanton total disregard for life. Children should not have to live like this, said Perry.
Members of Unity II, a gang intervention and prevention group, patrolled Vernon Avenue Wednesday where the shooting occurred. The group is in charge of the Safe Passage program that escorts children to and from school to ward them from crime, fights, and gang activity.
The group said that there are several gangs in the area, and they try to recruit children after school. These kids are scared to death. They have post traumatic stress disorder, said Malik Spellman, Unity II member. Most of these children have had relatives killed by gang violence and theyre scared that they will be next.
Perry said that for the past year, she had requested that the Newton police division increase its police presence in the gang plagued neighborhood, but had yet to get her request granted.
Hines, who police said was on probation for a December burglary conviction, was arrested Thursday afternoon less than a half-mile from the shooting scene. If convicted of all counts, Hines faces eight life prison sentences with a minimum parole eligibility date of 154 years, according to the District Attorneys Office.
Hines faces eight counts of assault with an automatic firearm, two counts each of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, and one count each of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, discharging a firearm in a school zone and possessing a firearm while on probation, along with gang and gun allegations.
Referring to Hines, Perry observed, This person deserves to be punished