The L.A. 53
FIFTY-THREE PEOPLE DIED in L.A.'s riot 10 years ago.
Gunfire killed 35, including eight people shot by law enforcement and two by National Guardsmen. Six died in arson fires. Attackers used sticks or boards to kill two others. Stabbings killed two. Six died in car accidents; two in hit-and-runs. One was strangled.
The violence crossed racial and ethnic lines. The dead included 25 African-Americans, 16 Latinos, eight whites, two Asians, one Algerian, and one Indian or Middle Easterner. Men outnumbered women, 48 to 5.
One of the more troubling statistics: 22 of the cases remain open, unsolved homicides.
Investigative reporter JIM CROGAN, using coroner's reports, police records and interviews, compiled these snapshots of the final moments of the lives of L.A.'s 53.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29
Arturo Carlos Miranda
TIME: 7:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 120th Street and Central Avenue, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southeast Division: (213) 485-6902
Miranda, a 23-year-old Mexican-American, was driving home from a South-Central park with a nephew and a friend. A blue car pulled up and someone fired one shot, hitting Miranda in the chest.
TIME: 8:15 p.m. LOCATION: 400 block of W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southwest Division: (213) 485-6571
Taylor, a 43-year-old African-American, stood on a South L.A. street, where he had stopped on his way home from work. Someone drove by and shot him in the neck.
Franklin Antonio Benavidez
TIME: 8:35 p.m. LOCATION: 4404 S. Western Ave., South-Central L.A.
Southwest Division officers said they caught 27-year-old Benavidez robbing a gas station on South Western Avenue. When he pulled a gun on them, he was shot twice in the chest. He left behind a young child. It appears that a gunshot residue sample was never tested to prove that Benavidez had handled a weapon; the shooting was found to be justified.
Eduardo Canedo Vela
TIME: 9 p.m. LOCATION: 5000 block of West Slauson Avenue, Ladera Heights
STATUS: Open case, Sheriff's Homicide Division: (323) 890-5500
Car trouble led to the death of Vela, a 33-year-old Mexican-American from Arvin, who was driving with two friends when their car broke down on Slauson Avenue. Vela stayed with the light-blue, 1986 Ford Taurus, while his companions looked for a phone. When they returned, Vela was on his back in the street, with a gunshot wound to the chest. Vela left behind a wife, Rosa, and an 8-month-old daughter.
Anthony Lamarr Netherly
TIME: Between 9 and 10 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 78th and San Pedro streets, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385
A passing motorist found Netherly, a 21-year-old African-American, lying in the street and took him to Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center. He had been shot in the left eye. Netherly was a nurse's assistant.
Willie Bernard Williams
TIME: 9:30 p.m. LOCATION: Unknown
Williams, a 29-year-old African-American, weighed more than 300 pounds. Somehow he fell out of the back of his brother's truck and suffered severe head injuries. Williams' death, ruled accidental, was blamed on treacherous driving conditions.
John Henry Willers
TIME: 11 p.m. LOCATION: 10,000 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Foothill Division: (818) 834-3115
It appears that this man's kindness cost him his life. Thirty-seven-year-old Willers, a white man from Salt Lake City, tried to help people involved in a head-on collision in Mission Hills. Passersby gunned him down, the fatal shot piercing his heart.
Elbert Ondra Wilkins
TIME: 11:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 92nd Street and Western Avenue, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385
As Wilkins, 33, and some friends stood around their car, shots rang out from a passing car. A bullet hit Wilkins, an African-American, in the chest, ripping into his aorta. Wilkins' friends drove him to Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center, where he died.
TIME: Midnight LOCATION: Intersection of Avalon Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, Watts
Perilous driving conditions contributed to the death of Harris. The 38-year-old African-American was eastbound on Slauson Avenue in South-Central, when his car collided with another one at Avalon Boulevard. The riot delayed paramedics. He left behind a wife, Ernestine. No charges were filed.
Nissar Daoud Mustafa a.k.a. Wassir Daoud Nissar
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: 1601 S. Western Ave., Koreatown STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section: (213) 473-7474
Arsonists torched the J.J. Newberry Department store on South Western Avenue. Nearly four months later, on August 12, a worker found the body of Mustafa, a 20-year-old Indian or Middle Easterner, in the rubble. Mustafa had lived at 326 S. Normandie Ave. in the Wilshire District.
Anthony James Taylor Dennis Ray Jackson Sr.
TIME: Midnight LOCATION: 11,300 block of Alvaro Street
It appears these two African-Americans, Taylor, 31, and Jackson, 38, died in a shootout with LAPD officers near Nickerson Gardens Housing Project. Taylor was hit in the head; Jackson, in the back, the bullet shattering his spinal cord and slicing his aorta. Tests showed both men had likely handled or fired a weapon.
Elias Garcia Rivera
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: Vanowen Street near Coldwater Canyon Avenue, North Hollywood
Hours after the jury verdict, a group of African-American men stood outside their North Hollywood apartment collecting donations to retry the white officers. One resident gave $2 and resisted demands to give more. He tried to run away but was hit on the head with a board. His neighbor, Rivera, intervened and was struck in the head, suffering a broken skull. He went into a coma, and his family removed him from life-support on December 16. A jury convicted Traville Craig, 19, of murder, and he received a life sentence with no chance of parole.
THURSDAY, April 30
Juanita Rena Pettaway (also spelled Pedaway)Jerel ChannellDarnell Levalle Mallory
TIME: 12:10 a.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Seward Street, Hollywood
These three African-American robbery suspects, Pettaway, 38, Channell, 26, and Mallory, 18, died in a police pursuit. Mallory, the driver, lost control and slammed into a fire hydrant and brick wall. Police said the suspects tossed out a gun and stolen property during the chase.
Ira Frederick McCurry
TIME: Unknown, body found at 12:10 a.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 102nd Street and Avalon Boulevard, Watts STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southeast Division: (213) 485-6902
McCurry, a 45-year-old white male, was found dead on the street, shot through the right eye as he pleaded with looters not to burn down a store next to his house. He was a maintenance worker for L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department.
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: Found near intersection of 114th Street and Central Avenue, South-Central L.A.
Harrison, a 17-year-old African-American, was found with a bullet wound in his chest. Detectives speculated Harrison might have been a sniper shot by police; the case appears closed.
Meeker Mardah Gibson
TIME: Body found at 4:30 a.m. LOCATION: 1040 E. Holt Ave., Pomona 0STATUS: Open case, Pomona Police: (909) 622-1241
Gibson, a 35-year-old African-American, may have been talking on a gas-station pay phone when he took a shotgun blast to the chest. His body was found May 1. His wife, Valerie, survived him.
William Anthony Ross
TIME: Body found between 7 and 8 a.m. LOCATION: 2882 Ninth St., Koreatown STATUS: Open case, LAPD Criminal Conspiracy Section: (213) 473-7474
Ross, a 25-year-old African-American, burned to death inside a grocery store looted and torched in Koreatown. Ross died, curled up under a metal desk in the office, with a wad of cash in a pant pocket. The coroner ruled the death a homicide.
Brian Edmund Andrew
TIME: 12:30 p.m. LOCATION: 1116 N. Chester Ave., Compton
Compton Police officers said they saw Andrew, a 30-year-old African-American, looting a store on Chester Avenue. Andrew hit one officer in the head with a bottle, and another officer fired a shot at point-blank range, hitting Andrew in the face. The District Attorney's Office ruled the shooting to be justifiable.
Howard A. Epstein
TIME: Between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Slauson Avenue and Seventh Avenue, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385
Epstein, a 45-year-old white man from Orinda, was westbound on Slauson Avenue in South-Central, when someone in another car fired at his vehicle. The shot hit Epstein in the left temple. His Ford Thunderbird kept going until it hit a tree. While Epstein lay bleeding, rioters robbed him and looted his car. The crowd's hostility was so intense, police towed the car with the body still inside. Epstein had come to L.A. to check on his business. He left behind a wife, Stephanie.
TIME: 3:15 p.m. LOCATION: Alondra Boulevard, east of Willowbrook Avenue, Compton STATUS: Open case, Sheriff's Homicide Division: (323) 890-5500
The riot did not keep Monterey Park resident Lam, a 25-year-old Vietnamese-American, from trying to make deliveries for his family's small grocery. He was eastbound on Alondra Boulevard, in his 1989 Toyota truck with a camper shell, and stopped at a red light at Willowbrook. A late-1970s or early-1980s blue Cadillac pulled up, and a front-seat passenger, described as an African-American man in his early 20s, yelled a racial slur and opened fire, hitting Lam four times, three times in the chest and once in the back.
TIME: 4:20 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 107th Street and Burin Avenue, Lennox
Sheriff's deputies chased a carload of suspects fleeing a looted jewelry store near 110th Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. When the getaway car crashed, the suspects ran a short distance and exchanged gunfire with deputies. Garcia, who had followed in another car, joined the chase. The 15-year-old Mexican-American was shot in the chest. A gunshot-residue test showed that Garcia had not held a weapon, the shooting was ruled justifiable.
TIME: 4:45 p.m. LOCATION: 2740 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
Bettan, a 30-year-old Algerian-born Frenchman, worked as an armed security guard at a shopping center, where he joined a group of armed storeowners defending their property. During one looting spree, Bettan was shot. The round blew off the top of his head. According to the coroner's report, Bettan's wound seemed "inconsistent with the weapons wielded by the rioters. It more nearly matched the high-powered rifles used by the shopkeepers." LAPD investigators determined Bettan had been accidentally shot by one of his employers. No charges were filed.
Frank Daniel Lopez
TIME: Sometime before 5:30 p.m. LOCATION: 16th Street, east of Central Avenue, Central City
Lopez, a 36-year-old transient, was found face down on the street. He had been hit by a car. Lopez's family was never found, and the county eventually buried him. His death was ruled accidental.
Matthew Ellis Haines
TIME: 6:35 p.m. LOCATION: 1900 block of Lemon Street, Long Beach
A mob of a dozen or so African-American youth set upon Haines, a 32-year-old white man, as he rode his motorcycle with his roommate on back. They pulled Haines, a local motorcycle mechanic, and his friend off the bike, robbed them and shot Haines. Ironically, Haines was on his way to meet a black friend to help him move. Seven of his attackers were found guilty or accepted plea agreements.
Gregory Davis Jr.
TIME: 7 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Vermont Avenue and 43rd Street, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southwest Division: (213) 485-6571
Fifteen-year-old Davis Jr., an African-American who lived on West 70th Street in South-Central, was shot in the forehead as he walked on the street.
Adolpho Morales a.k.a. Andre Garnica
TIME: 7:15 p.m. LOCATION: 2000 block of West Pico Boulevard, Pico-Union STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Rampart Division: (213) 207-2147
Morales, 37, was stabbed to death. Police found the knife but no traceable prints. Morales carried fake ID listing his name as Andre Garnica.
Hector Rivas Castro
TIME: 7:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Vermont and Leeward avenues, East Hollywood
Castro, 49, was shot in the back as he walked in East Hollywood. The bullet broke his spine and punctured his heart. A friend put the mortally wounded Castro in the back seat of his car and drove to the nearest contingent of police. The LAPD determined that a National Guardsman shot Castro. His death was ruled accidental.
Louis Amari Watson
TIME: 7:45 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Vernon and Normandie avenues, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southwest Division: (213) 485-6571
According to Watson's aunt, her 18-year-old African-American nephew was standing with a large group of people when a gunman opened fire. Watson was struck in the head. Southwest Detective Supervisor Ron Richards believes people know who did it, but no one has come forward.
John Doe No. 80
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: 5801 S. Vermont Ave., South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section: (213) 473-7474
Police think that John Doe No. 80 -- the only unidentified riot victim -- died in a fire at Pep Boys. The body, discovered two days later, weighed 117 pounds, was nearly 5 feet tall, with brown hair, a mustache and a goatee. He was about 35 years old.
George Antonio Sosa
TIME: 8 p.m. LOCATION: 2600 block of Florence Avenue, Huntington Park
An unidentified gunman shot 20-year-old Sosa as he allegedly looted a store in Huntington Park.
Jose Very Solorzano or Joel Very Solorzano or Noel Solorzano
TIME: 8:15 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue
A shopkeeper defending his property shot Solorzano, 25, while he allegedly looted a store.
James Lino Taylor
TIME: 8:47 p.m. LOCATION: 5209 W. Sunset Blvd.
A storekeeper may have shot and killed James Taylor, a 27-year-old African-American, as he allegedly looted stores in a Hollywood strip mall.
Juan Antonio Pineda
TIME: 9:45 p.m. LOCATION: 4000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, East Hollywood
Edward Song Lee
TIME: 9:50 p.m. LOCATION: Near corner of Third Street and Hobart Boulevard, Wilshire District
Lee, 18, a Korean-American living with his mom in the Wilshire District, was out with three friends when they got into a fight with another group of Koreans. Police responded to the gunfight and exchanged fire with both groups. Lee suffered two fatal hits to the chest as he sat in the front seat of a car. Someone in the rival group shot him. Detectives later learned the gun battle was a tragic mistake. Each group had been protecting Korean-owned stores and mistook the other for looters. Police made an arrest; no charges filed.
Cesar Augusto Aguilar
TIME: 10 to 11 p.m. LOCATION: 2009 W. Sixth St., Westlake
Police said they confronted Aguilar, a 19-year-old Honduran immigrant, at a convenience store in the Westlake area. When Officer James MacDonald ordered Aguilar to raise his hands, the officer said he saw the butt of a gun in his waistband. Aguilar lowered his arms and MacDonald feared he was reaching for the gun. The officer fired his shotgun and Officer J. Leuck fired one round from his handgun, hitting Aguilar in his back. The shooting was deemed justifiable. The body was turned over to the Honduran consul for shipment home.
Ernest Neal Jr.
TIME: 11:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Western Avenue and 92nd Street, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385
Neal Jr., a 27-year-old African-American, was standing with another man when someone shot at them. Neal was hit in the head.
FRIDAY, May 1
Paul Douglas Horace
TIME: Noon LOCATION: 1439 E. Walnut St., South-Central L.A.
This murder may or may not be riot-related. Horace was involved in a drug deal gone bad. The 38-year-old African-American was fatally wounded as he tried to run from his killers. Horace left behind a wife, Donna. Two adults and a juvenile were convicted of murder.
Lucie Rose Maronian
TIME: 2 p.m. LOCATION: 1800 block East New York Drive, Altadena
Four knife-wielding African-American youths chased Maronian's son and a couple of his friends through their Altadena neighborhood. They sought refuge on a neighbor's roof. Maronian, a 50-year-old teacher's aide in Pasadena schools, tried to intercede. She was stabbed three times in the chest and twice in the back. Her attackers were convicted of burglary and assault; the jury hung on the murder charges. Sheriff's Homicide Lieutenant Joseph Hartshorne said his unit is reviewing DNA evidence and might once again seek murder charges.
TIME: 4:30 p.m. LOCATION: 11,690 W. Gateway Blvd., West L.A.
In what has to rank as the most bizarre death of the riot, someone at Bob's Market in West L.A. strangled the 68-year-old Bel Air Estates resident in the produce section. A white male, Ratinoff was shopping at the store because it was the nearest market open. Ratinoff was buying vegetables, when he knocked some cornhusks to the ground. He began arguing with someone, and the situation escalated. Police made an arrest; no charges filed.
Charles William Orebo
TIME: 6 p.m. LOCATION: Florence Avenue, near Harbor Freeway overpass, South-Central L.A.
Heading down the Harbor Freeway, Orebo, a 22-year-old African-American, allegedly threatened a motorist, who turned out to be an off-duty LAPD officer. An off-duty L.A. Sheriff's deputy followed in the next car. It's unclear who started shooting, but people in all three vehicles exchanged fire. Orebo was thrown out of the car as it headed down the Florence Avenue off ramp. He had been shot in the head, back and left forearm. The shooting was ruled justifiable.
TIME: 7:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 51st and Main streets, Central City
Jackson, a 59-year-old African-American, was riding in a small Datsun, moving eastbound on 51st Street, when her car slammed into the back of a Ford van. Her death was ruled accidental.
TIME: 7:30 p.m. LOCATION: 5400 block of South Van Ness Avenue, South-Central L.A.
Alfred Miller, a 32-year-old African-American, was shot in the neck in a drive-by shooting. The bullet broke two of his vertebrae, hit his spine and lodged in his shoulder. It appears an arrest was made, but the D.A. declined to prosecute.
Kevin Andrew Evanshen
TIME: Midnight LOCATION: 11,849 Braddock Dr., Venice STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Division: (213) 473-7474
Homicide investigators nicknamed Evanshen the Good Samaritan. His mistake was trying to put out a fire started by looters at a check-cashing store. The 24-year-old white man slipped through a weakened portion of the office roof and died from burns and smoke inhalation.
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: 3100 Rosecrans Ave., Hawthorne STATUS: Open case, Gardena Police: (310) 217-9622
Authorities believe looters fatally beat Alvarez with sticks after the 40-year-old transient started throwing rocks at them to break up a stealing spree. Alvarez died on May 23. Gardena homicide investigator Mark Wilson believes someone saw the beating.
SATURDAY, May 2
Carol Ann Benson
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: Found on Harbor Freeway STATUS: Case open, LAPD's South Bureau Traffic: (323) 290-6063
The body of Benson, a 43-year-old African-American, was found on the freeway near downtown, an apparent hit-and-run victim.
TIME: 12:20 p.m. LOCATION: 7,600 block of Compton Avenue, Watts
A Sheriff's deputy believes the gunfire that killed Espinosa, 65, of South-Central was likely meant for police cars. Espinosa was shot in the chest as she walked down the street. She left behind a husband, Socorro. A Latino juvenile was convicted of murder and an assault with a gun on another person and given a two-year sentence at a juvenile camp. "I know it's hard to imagine, a two-year sentence for murder, but it happened," says Sheriff's Homicide Lieutenant Joseph Hartshorne.
TIME: 10:45 p.m. LOCATION: 11,900 block of Cometa Street, Pacoima
Ward, a 20-year-old African-American, was shot several times as he stood in front of a house. He left behind a young child. The case was closed by the LAPD.
Juan Veron Roberto Salgado
TIME: Unknown LOCATION: 3115 S. Main St., South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section: (213) 473-7474
A worker from a neighboring business found the body of Salgado, 20, inside a burned-out clothing store, Collective Merchandise Inc., on May 20. Authorities believe his body had been there since a May 2 fire. The death was ruled a homicide.
SUNDAY, May 3
Howard Eugene Martin
TIME: 12:40 a.m. LOCATION: 1279 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
Pasadena police shot Martin, a 22-year-old African-American, at a party that turned violent. Police cars sought help from a police helicopter, which was forced down by gunfire. As officers exchanged fire with party guests, Martin opened the apartment door and was shot in the head. He left behind a young daughter. The shooting was ruled accidental.
Victor Rodrigo Rivas
TIME: 7:40 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of Pico Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue, Pico-Union
It was after curfew and Rivas, 31, was driving his 1974 Datsun 280Z in the Rampart area, near a National Guardsmen post. Authorities said Rivas was driving fast, and Guardsmen responded by pointing their rifles at his car. Rivas stopped, made a U-turn, and went around the block. As he approached the Guardsmen a second time, his car hit one of the soldiers, and others opened fire with their M-16s. In all, 14 rounds were fired, and Rivas was hit five times. LAPD's Rampart homicide detectives cleared the Guardsmen.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.