VENICE, Calif. – A teenage student was fatally shot in a Venice High School parking lot Monday after a fight broke out, authorities said.
Augustine Contreras, a 17-year-old junior at Venice High, was taken to a hospital in critical condition where he later died, said Officer Mike Lopez.
The shooting occurred around 3 p.m., shortly after school let out, police said.
Police said Contreras was shot after he went to the aid of his two brothers, who were involved in a fight with at least five young men. What provoked the fight was unclear, but authorities said they believe it stemmed from a gang dispute.
One of the men, who was armed with a handgun, shot the boy in the upper torso, said Sgt. Lee Sands.
The suspects, who police said did not appear to be Venice High students, then fled the campus on foot.
Police pursued a young male into the Oakwood area of Venice, a few blocks from the school, and set up a perimeter while searching for him. A young man was briefly retained but then released, police said. No arrests were made.
Venice High has nearly 2,700 students.
The 40-square-block Oakwood neighborhood, which also lies a short distance from the famous Venice boardwalk, is known for gang violence. The gentrification of Venice has included Oakwood, but the neighborhood's income levels are still low, said Lopez.
Venice High has long experienced problems linked to gang-plagued neighborhoods surrounding the campus.
"The kids that feed into this school come from a community that has active gangs, and the schools are a reflection of this," school Police Officer Jose Santome said.