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Relatives retrace homicide victim DaMar Daniel Rigsby's last steps

Just days after DaMar Daniel Rigsby was killed, his sister and mother found themselves 2,000 miles away from their Indiana home, walking around the South L.A. neighborhood where he was shot.

Margaret and Jamila Rigsby stepped out of a rental car off Figueroa and 107th streets with candles in hand. They wanted to know what happened to the 24-year-old aspiring electrician who had come to Los Angeles to make a life for himself after a girl back home broke his heart.

On the street, people approached the mother and daughter, among them a man who said he held DaMar in his arms after he'd been shot. He told the women he wished there was more he could have done.DaMar Daniel Rigsby

Rigsby was riding Metro on Sept. 6, talking to his mother and sister on the phone when he ran into someone he knew. The two exited at 115th and Figueroa.

As the men walked down the street, LAPD detectives said, a dark-colored sedan pulled up and someone began shooting at them. DaMar, attempting to escape, ran across the street and collapsed in the doorway of Al's Liquor Store. He died later at a hospital. His acquaintance was not injured. Detectives believe gang members are responsible for the homicide.

"He was doing nothing wrong," said LAPD Det. Supervisor Rick Gordon. "He was walking home."

Gordon said DaMar could have been profiled by a gang in the area and mistaken for a rival member.

"Sometimes they're so amped up to shoot, they'll shoot at whoever they think could possibly be a gang member," Gordon said.

Standing on the busy stretch of Figueroa, dotted with liquor stores and motels, DaMar's mother and sister wanted to see what he last saw. The area is one of L.A.'s deadliest neighborhoods, according to The Times' crime database. This year, six people have been killed in Vermont Vista.

The two watched the cars that drove past and noted where security cameras were placed. They retraced DaMar's steps at the time he was shot — 8 p.m. — and spotted his blood still on the sidewalk.

But in their quest, they came to realize how unlucky their loved one had been.

Jamila watched people walk down the same street — some in gang colors — and wondered, why did it have to be her brother?

"Why that time frame?" she said. "It drives my mind crazy."

In phone calls, DaMar had told them about the wonders of the city, which was so different from Fort Wayne, Ind., where he'd spent most of his life. He'd explored Venice Beach, played basketball in Hollywood and was in awe about living on the same street as Staples Center, where his favorite Laker, Kobe Bryant, played the court. Though he missed his 1 1/2-year-old daughter, he loved L.A.

They recalled his words to them: This is the place to be.

But he never told his mother and sister that his pace quickened after dark, or that a friend of his was shot in Compton after a basketball game one night.

He shared such thoughts with his half-brother, Joseph Scruggs: It's real out here.

Jamila said she hopes someone will come forward with information about DaMar's killer.

"Somebody knows who shot him," she said.

Anyone with information can call the LAPD's Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-1383. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

(Photo: Damar Rigsby, 24, was gunned down Sept. 6 in Vermont Vista. L.A. police believe he was mistaken by a gang member as a rival. Credit: Courtesy of David Scruggs)

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