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Deputies say 1 dead, 2 injured in LA shooting during fireworks

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POSTED July 5, 2012 10:16 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gunman walked up to a crowd watching Fourth of July fireworks and opened fire, killing a 14-year-old girl and wounding a 12-year-old girl and a man, authorities said Thursday.

No arrest has been made and the motive for the attack was unclear, Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide Lt. Mike Rosson said.

The shooting occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday while a crowd gathered outside a house at 97th Street and Normandie Avenue was celebrating Independence Day.

"The whole street was watching (neighborhood) fireworks" when two men walked around a corner two houses away and approached, Rosson said.

One pulled a handgun and fired many shots before fleeing.

The 14-year-old girl was hit in the upper body, while a 12-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man were each shot in the leg, Rosson said.

The 14-year-old died at a hospital. The other victims are expected to survive, he said.

The victims' names were not immediately released by officials, but family members told KABC-TV that the 14-year-old girl was Unique Russell.

"Just all of a sudden you hear everybody saying, 'Get down! Get down! They're shooting!" said her aunt, Emily Sharb-Williams. "I just can't understand it. I wish all this violence would stop."

The teenager "didn't deserve" this, said her cousin, Calvin Reeves. "No one here deserved what happened last night. No one."

"It's tragic," Rosson said.

"We do not believe that the two girls were targeted," he said. "We believe somebody else at the gathering was targeted."

Investigators were trying to determine whether the shooting was gang-related.

"It's a pretty quiet area," Rosson said. "There are some gangs in the area, but we don't have anybody warring. It doesn't appear to be retaliation. We don't have any motive at this time."

The shooting came a month to the day after another South Los Angeles-area street shooting killed a 1-year-old boy as his father cradled him in his arms.

A gunman rode up on a bicycle on June 4 and opened fire on a crowd standing outside a home on Hikory Street.

The baby, Angel Cortez, was shot in the stomach. His father, 24-year-old Mauro Cortez, was holding him and was shot in the shoulder.

A 15-year-old boy was later arrested and charged as an adult with murder and attempted murder. He remains jailed on $3 million bail.

Investigators have said the murder was gang-related although Cortez wasn't in a gang.

That shooting occurred in Watts, about nine miles north of the unincorporated county area where Wednesday night's attack took place.


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