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.
Hand-written messages, flowers and candles mark the South Los Angeles park bench where a 19-year-old man was ambushed Tuesday afternoon while listening to music.
Mourners gathered at the park throughout the day Wednesday to remember the special-needs teen who was attending classes at a trade school.
"What kind of society is it that we live in where a young man can’t sit in the park in broad daylight and listen to music without fear of getting shot?" said Brett Roberts, neighbor.
Earlier in the day, councilman Bernard Parks said the fatal shooting of Patrick Caruthers is a major setback for his district, which has pumped some $8 millions into the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center in an effort to curb gang violence and bring in more families.
Improvements include a swimming pool, skate park and refurbished playing fields, but efforts to install cameras at the park continues to get held up in committee, Parks said.
"It's paperwork. That should not have held up something this important," he said. "We have a death now that, hopefully, if we had those cameras in earlier this year, could have been prevented."
Parks' office said the Los Angeles City Council on Friday is expected to announce a $50,000 reward for information in the case.
And 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.
Authorities continued their search Wednesday for the gunman, who approached Caruthers, seated on a bench at the park, from behind and fired several rounds, police said.
The suspect fled in a dark compact car, but authorities did not have a description of the gunman. The shooting occurred at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
"He was just sitting there with his headphones in his ears," said Bryan Smith, a friend of the victim.
The victim's mother, Gail Sears, plead for someone to come forward with information.
"How do you sleep at night? And if there’s someone who knows who did this, either have a clear conscience or have no conscience. Report it. Please," she said.
Caruthers was a volunteer at the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center, located in the 1500 block of West 62nd Street. On Wednesday night, his family and friends gathered there for a memorial service.
"This is what happens in the inner-city communities all the time," said Caruthers' sister Cenesia Blade. "Unfortunately, this time, it was my brother who loved this park and this community."
The shooter has gang ties, according to police. Caruthers did not have gang ties, friends told NBC4.
"He didn't bother anybody," said friend Larry Gibson. "He went to school. He played the piano and the drums for the church every Sunday."
Park visitors, many of whom left candles on the park bench, told NBC4 they often saw Caruthers volunteering at the park. He tried to clean up his crime-ridden neighborhood by applying for the Summer Nights anti-gang program.
"He means a lot to this community," said friend Ronnie Boswell. "Everybody loved him. Everywhere you'd go, Patrick knew somebody."
"I'm just so grateful he was loved like that," Caruthers' mother said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 213-485-1383 or 800-222-8477.