Grieving Mom on a Mission for Justice in Slaying of Teen Son

"The only thing I can think about is seeing that person going to jail," said Tawona Lee of her son's killer

Tawona Lee will always remember Aug. 22, 2014, when her 17-year-old son became the fourth relative to be killed by gang violence in South Los Angeles.

"My brother was murdered, my sister was murder, my father was murdered," she says in tears. "I couldn't believe they were coming to tell me my son had been murdered."

Bert Crump, Jr. was near the intersection of Gage and Normandie avenues on a Friday afternoon. During the evening rush hour, while he was waiting for a bus, LAPD South Bureau Criminal Gang homicide detectives believe his red LA Angels of Anaheim T-shirt may have inadvertently offended a local gang member.

"We know the shooter is a local," Det. Fernando Cuevas said. "We just need someone to tell us who it is."

LAPD has video surveillance of Crump's final moments. It shows a streak of red as the teenager runs from a man on a bike holding a handgun.

"You have caused me the worst pain of my life," Lee said that shooter. "I hope that you spend the rest of your days in jail."

Since the murder, Lee has helped police canvas the neighborhood with fliers, promoting a still-active $75,000 reward in the case.

Cuevas said the amount is triple that of other cases, because the victim is a juvenile and because there was a second man who was also shot in the process.


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"An older gentleman," Cuevas said. "Crump waved him down for help and jumped into his van."

That's when detectives say the suspect got off the bike, approached the van and started shooting into it, killing Crump and wounding the driver.

"He's definitely got traumatized by the situation, he's coming from work, doesn't know what's going on," Cuevas said.

For Lee, the heartache is deeper because she says her son, considered a special-needs student, was about to turn 18 and that most his life he had witnessed his parents bitter divorce separate the family. She was looking forward to spending more time with him, she says, and the shooter took that away.

"I didn't get the opportunity to see my baby walk across the stage and graduate. I won't see my grandkids," she said. "The only thing I can think about is seeing that person going to jail."

LAPD South Bureau Criminal Gang Homicide Division at 77th Street Community Police Station has a $75,000 reward available for anyone who can help lead to the arrest and conviction of Crump's killer. Callers can remain anonymous. To submit a tip, call 323-786-5100.

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