Surveillance Cameras For South LA Park Approved in Wake of Teen's Shooting Death

The 19-year-old special needs student was gunned down Tuesday afternoon while sitting on a park bench.

By Michelle Valles and Samantha Tata
|  Thursday, Jan 24, 2013  |  Updated 6:32 PM PDT
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LA City Council unanimously approved a $50,000 reward in the murder of 19-year-old Patrick Caruthers, and also agreed to install security cameras in the park where the teen was gunned down Tuesday afternoon. Michelle Valles reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2012.

Michelle Valles

LA City Council unanimously approved a $50,000 reward in the murder of 19-year-old Patrick Caruthers, and also agreed to install security cameras in the park where the teen was gunned down Tuesday afternoon. Michelle Valles reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2012.

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Man Fatally Shot While Sitting On Park Bench

Patrick Caruthers, 19, was killed Tuesday afternoon while he was sitting on a park bench in Los Angeles. Detectives say an unknown shooter walked up to the developmentally disabled man and show him several times in the torso before fleeing in a dark-colored compact vehicle. Beverly White reports from Jackie Tatum Harvard Recreation Center for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2012.

Neighborhood Heart Sick Over Slain Special-Needs Teen

Hand-written messages, flowers and candles marked on Wednesday night the South Los Angeles park bench where a 19-year-old man was ambushed Tuesday afternoon while listening to music. Family and friends of Patrick Caruthers issued a plea for information in the case. Beverly White reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2012.
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Several surveillance cameras will be installed in the South Los Angeles park where a special needs teenager was gunned down earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously decided on Friday.

The move to instate five cameras at Jackie Tatum/Harvard Park Recreation Center came during the same session in which the council voted to approve a $50,000 reward for information in Patrick Caruthers’ fatal shooting.

"It was a very cowardly move," said Gail Sears, Caruthers’ mother. "The person who did it and they need to be brought to justice."

The 19 year old was sitting on a park bench listening to music on Tuesday afternoon when he was fatally shot in the torso.

Investigators say the shooter walked up to Caruthers, opened fire then ran to a waiting vehicle and fled the scene, located in the 1500 block of West 62nd Street

The suspect fled in a dark-colored compact car, but authorities did not have a description of the shooter, who police say has gang ties. Caruthers did not have gang ties, friends told NBC4.

Residents have long demanded that surveillance cameras be put in the park as part of the city’s effort to curb gun violence and make the area more family friendly.

So far, some $8 million in improvements have been pumped into the park, including a swimming pool, skate park and refurbished playing fields. But the move to install security cameras kept getting held up in committee.

Councilman Bernard Parks has been pushing the council to approve the cameras’ installation for some eight months, and admits Caruthers’ death spurred the city's action Thursday.

The cameras are "bulletproof. These are tamper proof," Parks said. Installation will likely take a couple months.

Surveillance cameras are a deterrence that has made another Los Angeles green space, Macarthur Park, safer, officials said.

The elderly who hang out at Macarthur Park said cameras have lowered crime dramatically. Employees at nearby Langer’s Deli agree.

"Word gets out in the neighborhood," said Trisha Langer. "People in the neighborhood, I think, they tend to stay away."

Earlier this week, Sears told a crowd gathered at the rec center to remember the popular teen that if her son’s death could prevent another tragedy, then his purpose in life was fulfilled.

Caruthers was a volunteer at the park and tried to clean up his crime-ridden neighborhood by applying for the Summer Nights anti-gang program. His friends and families gathered on Wednesday night to honor the trade-school student and church musician.

"He means a lot to this community," said friend Ronnie Boswell. "Everybody loved him. Everywhere you'd go, Patrick knew somebody."

Caruthers' church, Jesus House of Prayer, has established a fund for the family at Bank of America. The ID number for donations is 02363 42806, c/o Patrick Caruthers.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 213-485-1383 or 800-222-8477.

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