Los Angeles police said Tuesday that they have arrested a teenage tagger suspected of fatally shooting a veteran gang interventionist after he confronted the youth over graffiti.
The suspect, who is 16, is a Los Angeles resident but police declined to identify him, citing his age. Police noted the boy was not affiliated with a street gang, contrary to a department news release that stated investigators believed the shooter belonged to a gang.
"He's a tagger, not a gang member," said Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who said investigators received help in identifying the suspect by Los Angeles Unified School police.
Police said the boy fatally shot Ronald Lamonte Barron, who worked for the interventionist organization Amer-I-Can.
Barron and his girlfriend were leaving a bar Sunday night in his old neighborhood in the Mid-Wilshire area when he noticed a tagger defacing a wall on Pico Boulevard. Detectives said Barron confronted the tagger, who fatally shot him as his girlfriend and others looked on.
Surveillance video appeared to show a gunman wearing dark-colored clothing arguing with Barron in front of "numerous witnesses." The suspect then pulled out a pistol and shot Barron, 40, multiple times at point-blank range before calmly walking away from the scene.
Barron's death was mourned not only in the gang intervention world but at City Hall and LAPD headquarters, where the reformed Mansfield Crips gang member was seen as an honest broker in the effort to reduce the grip of gangs in some neighborhoods.
The LAPD's Smith said that in addition to more police, gang intervention workers would step up their presence in the neighborhood to reduce tensions.