Three suspects arrested in killing of gang intervention worker celebrated as a peacemaker

Garry “Twin” Dorton tried to keep young people in South Los Angeles from making the same mistakes he did when he was an active gang member.

He helped them get jobs and stay out of trouble. After a killing, he talked them out of retaliating. He led his neighborhood in a softball league that aimed to build peace among Crips gang members.

But mediating disputes between gangs can be dangerous work.

On July 1, Dorton was fatally shot outside a friend’s house on the 4500 block of South Van Ness Avenue. The peacemaker had become a target.

Los Angeles police on Wednesday announced the arrest of three men in their teens and early 20s — the very group that Dorton, 48, devoted his life to saving — in connection with his death.

The suspects, who were arrested between July 13 and Aug. 13, are Brandon Dixon, 22; Dejone Wright, 20; and Omario Guerrero, 18.

Each has been charged with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

On the night Dorton was killed, three men drove by the house on Van Ness about 8 p.m., then parked, detectives said. Two of them walked up and opened fire on Dorton and five others.

Another man was seriously injured and spent weeks in the hospital but is expected to survive. Detectives think Wright and Guerrero were the gunmen.

The shooters were from a rival gang, and they came looking for Dorton, Capt. Peter Whittingham, head of the South Bureau Homicide Division, said at a news conference.

“We believe that this was deliberate, determined,” Whittingham said. “The killers knew who they were looking for, and we believe Garry was among the people they were looking for.”

But Whittingham said he did not know why the young men were angry at Dorton, a father of five who was a gang interventionist for the mayor’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development program.

Whittingham called Dorton “one of the good guys.”

“To the extent that you have people like Garry who try to find different ways to bring rival communities together, to find common ways they can come together and break bread and play games and enjoy, as opposed to shooting at each other — that’s what he and others were doing,” Whittingham said. “It’s a tragic situation that some of the very people who he was trying to save, trying to bring prosperity to, trying to motivate and mentor, unfortunately those were some of the same people who took his life.”

Dorton’s grandmother, Eula Montgomery, said that shortly before his death, he came by to wish her a happy birthday. She urged him to go home, but he made a stop at his friend’s house on the same block.

“I always tried to get him to move out of the community, but he loved that community,” she said. “You could always find Garry on that street where he was raised and born.”

At the news conference, many of Dorton’s friends and relatives wore shirts with his photograph embedded in a Milwaukee Brewers glove logo, with “Twin 1” on the back, to honor his leading role in the Crips softball league.

“I’ve been hurting ever since this happened. I’ve not been the same since,” said Dorton’s identical twin, Jerry Dorton. “Maybe I’ll have some closure now.”

Photo: Garry “Twin” Dorton, center, at the Crips softball championship game in October 2017. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Garry “Twin” Dorton tried to keep young people in South Los Angeles from making the same mistakes he did when he was an active gang member.

He helped them get jobs and stay out of trouble. After a killing, he talked them out of retaliating. He led his neighborhood in a softball league that aimed to build peace among Crips gang members.

But mediating disputes between gangs can be dangerous work.

On July 1, Dorton was fatally shot outside a friend’s house on the 4500 block of South Van Ness Avenue. The peacemaker had become a target.

Los Angeles police on Wednesday announced the arrest of three men in their teens and early 20s — the very group that Dorton, 48, devoted his life to saving — in connection with his death.

The suspects, who were arrested between July 13 and Aug. 13, are Brandon Dixon, 22; Dejone Wright, 20; and Omario Guerrero, 18.

Each has been charged with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

On the night Dorton was killed, three men drove by the house on Van Ness about 8 p.m., then parked, detectives said. Two of them walked up and opened fire on Dorton and five others.

Another man was seriously injured and spent weeks in the hospital but is expected to survive. Detectives think Wright and Guerrero were the gunmen.

The shooters were from a rival gang, and they came looking for Dorton, Capt. Peter Whittingham, head of the South Bureau Homicide Division, said at a news conference.

“We believe that this was deliberate, determined,” Whittingham said. “The killers knew who they were looking for, and we believe Garry was among the people they were looking for.”

But Whittingham said he did not know why the young men were angry at Dorton, a father of five who was a gang interventionist for the mayor’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development program.

Whittingham called Dorton “one of the good guys.”

“To the extent that you have people like Garry who try to find different ways to bring rival communities together, to find common ways they can come together and break bread and play games and enjoy, as opposed to shooting at each other — that’s what he and others were doing,” Whittingham said. “It’s a tragic situation that some of the very people who he was trying to save, trying to bring prosperity to, trying to motivate and mentor, unfortunately those were some of the same people who took his life.”

Dorton’s grandmother, Eula Montgomery, said that shortly before his death, he came by to wish her a happy birthday. She urged him to go home, but he made a stop at his friend’s house on the same block.

“I always tried to get him to move out of the community, but he loved that community,” she said. “You could always find Garry on that street where he was raised and born.”

At the news conference, many of Dorton’s friends and relatives wore shirts with his photograph embedded in a Milwaukee Brewers glove logo, with “Twin 1” on the back, to honor his leading role in the Crips softball league.

“I’ve been hurting ever since this happened. I’ve not been the same since,” said Dorton’s identical twin, Jerry Dorton. “Maybe I’ll have some closure now.”

Photo: Garry "Twin" Dorton, center, at the Crips softball championship game in October 2017. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

from http://homicide.latimes.com

Categories: Uncategorized

“She lived her dreams through us”—$35,000 reward for gunman who killed beloved mother and wife

There were
so many family milestones coming up in Tauvaaga Lauvai’s life.
The 53-year-old who went by the name Judy was planning the weddings of two
sons, her youngest boy was soon to graduate from college and she couldn’t
wait to help her only grandchild buy a backpack and lunchbox for her first day of school, her husband said. 

But those plans came to a terrifying and chaotic end on June 16. That evening, she was gunned down outside her in-laws’
Carson home as the family held an early Father’s Day celebration. Family was always her first priority,
said her husband, Ray Lauvai, apologizing repeatedly for his tears at a
news conference Aug. 10.

The family
had gathered for dessert on the front porch when a shooter in a light-colored four-door sedan sprayed gunfire at the home in the 22700 block of Island Avenue.

A 27-year-old relative was shot in the leg and survived. But Judy Lauvai was shot in the chest, and despite her husband’s CPR and entreaties to stay with him, she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later at a hospital. 

The family never imagined such violence in their neighborhood, Ray Lauvai said at the news conference. “My parents bought that house in 1963. I have three brothers and two sisters; we were all born and raised there, and there was never a problem until that night.”

No one saw the shooter, who stayed inside the car, Capt. Christopher Bergner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at the news conference. Video from neighborhood surveillance cameras showed a sedan similar to a four-door Nissan Altima, probably silver- or champagne-colored. 

But beyond that, investigators have run out of leads, said Sgt. Ken Perry. Lauvai’s family has no connection with gangs or illegal activities, he said, which leads authorities to believe that “whatever motive the shooter had, it’s very likely they were mistaken about their target,” Perry said.

Investigators announced a $35,000 reward at the news conference in an attempt to find information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is providing $10,000; the remaining $25,000 is being provided by the city of Carson, Lauvai’s home for 35 years. 

Judy moved with her family from Samoa to Carson when she was 8. She met her husband at Carson High School. They raised their family there until they moved to Tempe, Ariz., in 2008 and she took a job as an administrative assistant in the technology department of Arizona State University. 

She never attended college herself, said her son Ray Jr. But she made it a priority for all four of her children to earn university degrees, a goal that will be realized with the graduation of her youngest.  

“She lived her dreams through us,” Ray Jr. said. “She was loving, caring, protective … sometimes a disciplinarian, but her main goal was to put her kids through school.” 

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.  Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. 

Photos: Flanked by his children, Ray Lauvai, center, tries to hold back tears as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Christopher Bergner discusses the shooting that killed Lauvai’s wife, Tauvaaga “Judy” Lauvai, on June 16 in Carson. Photo credit: Jeanette Marantos for The Times. Center: Ray and Tauvaaga Lauvai in an undated photo provided by their family. 

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

There were so many family milestones coming up in Tauvaaga Lauvai's life. The 53-year-old who went by the name Judy was planning the weddings of two sons, her youngest boy was soon to graduate from college and she couldn't wait to help her only grandchild buy a backpack and lunchbox for her first day of school, her husband said. 

But those plans came to a terrifying and chaotic end on June 16. That evening, she was gunned down outside her in-laws’ Carson home as the family held an early Father’s Day celebration. Family was always her first priority, said her husband, Ray Lauvai, apologizing repeatedly for his tears at a news conference Aug. 10.

The family had gathered for dessert on the front porch when a shooter in a light-colored four-door sedan sprayed gunfire at the home in the 22700 block of Island Avenue.

A 27-year-old relative was shot in the leg and survived. But Judy Lauvai was shot in the chest, and despite her husband's CPR and entreaties to stay with him, she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later at a hospital. 

The family never imagined such violence in their neighborhood, Ray Lauvai said at the news conference. “My parents bought that house in 1963. I have three brothers and two sisters; we were all born and raised there, and there was never a problem until that night.”

No one saw the shooter, who stayed inside the car, Capt. Christopher Bergner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at the news conference. Video from neighborhood surveillance cameras showed a sedan similar to a four-door Nissan Altima, probably silver- or champagne-colored. 

But beyond that, investigators have run out of leads, said Sgt. Ken Perry. Lauvai’s family has no connection with gangs or illegal activities, he said, which leads authorities to believe that “whatever motive the shooter had, it’s very likely they were mistaken about their target,” Perry said.

Investigators announced a $35,000 reward at the news conference in an attempt to find information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is providing $10,000; the remaining $25,000 is being provided by the city of Carson, Lauvai’s home for 35 years. 

Judy moved with her family from Samoa to Carson when she was 8. She met her husband at Carson High School. They raised their family there until they moved to Tempe, Ariz., in 2008 and she took a job as an administrative assistant in the technology department of Arizona State University. 

She never attended college herself, said her son Ray Jr. But she made it a priority for all four of her children to earn university degrees, a goal that will be realized with the graduation of her youngest.  

“She lived her dreams through us,” Ray Jr. said. “She was loving, caring, protective ... sometimes a disciplinarian, but her main goal was to put her kids through school.” 

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.  Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. 

Photos: Flanked by his children, Ray Lauvai, center, tries to hold back tears as Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Christopher Bergner discusses the shooting that killed Lauvai's wife, Tauvaaga "Judy" Lauvai, on June 16 in Carson. Photo credit: Jeanette Marantos for The Times. Center: Ray and Tauvaaga Lauvai in an undated photo provided by their family. 

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

from http://homicide.latimes.com

Categories: Uncategorized