LOS ANGELES – Angry residents and community leaders in South Los Angeles questioned why police shot a 13-year-old boy suspected of stealing a car.
Police fired 10 rounds into a car driven by Devin Brown (search), who was unarmed, after he led them on a 3 ½-mile chase and then backed into their cruiser early Sunday.
The boy, an eighth-grader at a magnet school for gifted youth, was pronounced dead at the scene. A 14-year-old passenger was arrested and booked on charges of grand auto theft.
"I know he was wrong for stealing a car, but what I really don't understand is the police have had so much training," said Carmen Dorsey, 38, a church youth leader who visited a memorial Monday honoring Brown.
Dozens throughout the day had gathered at a memorial of flowers, candles and balloons on a street corner near the spot where Brown was shot.
Some visitors said Brown loved to play football and basketball and was interested in history, his favorite subject at Audubon Middle School (search), where he was enrolled in a charter program for the gifted.
Signs were displayed, criticizing police for the shooting. One read, "LAPD ... Thank you for giving us yet another reason to dislike your services. We have seen enough deaths caused by you and do not agree with your execution of yet another young black male. You are a cancer to the community."
Police declined to comment on the case beyond a printed statement that summarized the event and another that identified the officers involved in the shooting. They are nine-year veteran Steven Garcia, 31, who fired the shots, and six-year veteran, Dana Grant, 26. Both have been assigned to desk duty during the investigation.
Police initially said Brown was a suspected gang member, but a spokeswoman said that investigators couldn't immediately confirm a gang affiliation.
Friends and neighbors said the teen had recently begun skipping school and spending time with gang members after his father's death last year. They insisted, however, that he wasn't in a gang.
"It's a bad crowd he was starting to hang with but he wasn't a gang member yet — and I say yet," said Kevin Mitchell, a gang prevention specialist who knew Brown and himself a former gang member.
"He was headed that way soon," he said. "God called him before the gang bangers called him."