(Oct. 31, 2009, updated w/ video and multiple text updates) -- There was an outpouring of grief as friends, students, adults some familymembers came to the site roughly midway between 7th and 10th Sts. on Ximeno Ave. where a 16 year old girl was fatally shot, and two young adult males were wounded, following Friday night's football game at Wilson High School.
A grassroots, heartfelt shrine with flowers and candles grew on Ximeno. People wept openly. Some wrote messages to Melody and the family.
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Photo gallery and text continue below:
At mid-morning today (Oct. 31), LBPD PIO Sgt.Dina Zapalski said the shooting occurred after an argument broke out among two groups of people that had gathered in the area of 10th and Ximeno. It wasn't a drive-by shooting; someone opened fire into the crowd.
LBReport.com photo from Friday night
The deceased is identified as Melody Ross, a student enrolled in Advanced Placement honors courses at Wilson High. (Photo: quick digital copy at right, courtesy one of Melody's friends). A family member said the family fled Cambodia in the 1970's to escape the Killing Fields.
The family member said Ms. Ross was a pole vaulter and a great student and (paraphrasing) she is with God now. He says the family recently moved from the Gaviota Ave/10th St. area to North Long Beach to find a safer area. He says the family is in shock and disbelief that this has happened.
[further update] LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou says in a media dispatch that Ms. Ross was well-liked by her peers...and was enrolled in Advanced Placement honors courses and was a member of the track team. "The Long Beach Unified School District extends its deepest sympathies to Melody's family, friends and teachers." He adds that on Monday the school "will provide counselors in each of the classes that Melody enrolled in. Counselors and psychologists also will be available throughout the day in the school's career center for any student who needs to talk about the incident."
LBUSD's media dispatch adds:
Because the highly anticipated Wilson vs. Polytechnic High School football game was sold out, the school district provided extra security at Wilson on Friday evening, including three school safety officers from LBUSD School Safety, along with 19 campus security officers drawn from various other schools in the district, as well as 10 administrators and 15 teachers and other employees to provide additional adult supervision. The incident did not occur on campus but just outside the school.
Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews (who represents a different district) came to the scene. He expressed shock and disbelief at what took place.
Third District Councilman Gary DeLong (who does represent the Wilson area) emailed:
LBPD is the finest law enforcement agency in California and I have no doubt they will find and arrest the criminals who committed this horrific act. I've been in constant contact beginning last evening with Deputy Chief Luna, City Manager Pat West, both Wilson Co-Principals and concerned parents. All City resources will be available for Wilson High School to access both over the weekend, and continuing as necessary. Having a daughter who recently graduated from Wilson High, I feel a personal connection to the family who lost a daughter as a result of this atrocity.
LBPD says in a release that at about 9:30 p.m. the game had just ended when "a group of several hundred subjects were congregating in the area of Ximeno Avenue and 10th Street. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Long Beach Police Officers responded to a shooting that just occurred in the area of 10th Street and Ximeno Avenue." The release continues:
When officers arrived they found that three victims had been shot. An 18-year-old male and a 20-year-old male sustained non-life threatening injuries, and a 16-year-old female suffered life threatening injuries. All three victims were transported to the hospital where the female victim succumbed to her injuries. The female victim's identity is being withheld at this time.
Following the shooting, LBReport.com saw groups of students along Ximeno and Park Aves. conversing in hushed tones, some quietly texting or talking on cell phones. Everyone we asked knew there had been a shooting with multiple victims.
Officers interviewed young people while adults arrived to pick them up. We saw a father escorting his daughter home at brisk walking speed; she was quietly composed; he was tight-lipped, jaw set in seemingly seething anger.
Cars arrived with worried adults. "My nephew was here when someone was shot. Where is he?" a woman asked a school safety officer. "He's probably inside being interviewed," he replied...as the woman shook her head and parked and waited.
Is there any relevance to the fact that Poly High (a crosstown arch rival) was the football game competitor?
"No, not at this time," says LBPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Dina Zapalski.
LBReport.com flashed word of the shooting on our front page (www.lbreport.com) within minutes. Police have released no suspect information as yet of predawn (Oct 31).
LBPD says its investigation is ongoing and Detectives ask anyone who was in the area of Ximeno Avenue and 10th Street after the game and took photos or video that could assist in the investigation or has any information regarding this incident to contact LBPD Homicide Detectives Scott Lasch and Malcolm Evans at (562) 570-7244.