Man Shot and Killed Outside Church in South LA

Flowers and candles were left at the site where a man and a security guard were shot outside a church

By Hetty Chang, Jason Kandel, Samia Khan and Adrian Arambulo
|  Thursday, Feb 6, 2014  |  Updated 9:32 PM PDT
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Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were searching for a man who opened fire outside of the 88th Street Temple in South LA, killing a man and wounding a second man. Hetty Chang reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.

Hetty Chang/Hernan Vasquez/Rene Luna

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were searching for a man who opened fire outside of the 88th Street Temple in South LA, killing a man and wounding a second man. Hetty Chang reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.

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A 36-year-old man was fatally shot and a second man was critically wounded in the parking lot of a South Los Angeles church, deputies said.

The shooting occurred just before 7 p.m. Wednesday near the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ in the 8800 block of South Vermont Avenue.

Initial reports indicated the man had just walked with his common-law wife and her daughter to a church service, but the church's pastor said the man was not affiliated with the church.

John Matthews, of Los Angeles, died at a hospital, said coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter. The other man, a 35-year-old security guard who worked at the church, was hospitalized in critical condition, officials said. His name was not released.

Police were seeking a gunman who they said approached the two men as they talked on a sidewalk, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Coleman.

He was described only as about 5 foot 8. He was seen running west on 89th Street from Vermont, officials said.

Friends, who set up a makeshift memorial, meanwhile, mourned Matthews’ loss.

“We came over here ... and saw ... that ... it's sad ... he shouldn't have never left,” said Crystal Elias, Matthew’s friend. breaking down in tears.

Gary King was shocked.

“He was always helping people out,” King said. “He was a cool person … It just sucks that this happened to such a cool person. We don’t need this kinda stuff around here.”

Pastor Anthony Williams said he was in the middle of reading from the Bible when gunshots broke out and he went outside to investigate. He said shootings are common in the neighborhood.

But Elias, Matthews’ friend, said he was a family man and not in a gang.

“He wasn't a bad person. He wasn’t a gang member,” Elias said. “He wasn't out there like that.”

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call the LA County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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