A story for every victim

Robert Lett, 18

Robert Lett, 18, a young black man was shot at Langport Avenue and East 56th Way in Long Beach about 10:25 p.m.  Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Dispatch: "I didn't think it was him" (Originally posted on August 21, 2008 at 8:53 p.m.)

Robert Lett's street shrine

Two days after Robert Lett was shot outside an apartment complex in Long Beach, a group of neighbors talked about his death near the candles, flowers and stuffed bears that had been placed in his memory.

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, about 10:25 p.m., Lett was standing outside an apartment building at Langport Avenue and East 56th Way when gunfire erupted. Myesha Counsel, 21, said she heard about five shots. Counsel said she ran out and saw Lett lying on his back, with closed fists and his legs twitching.

"He was hit in the face, then in the neck," Counsel said. Her friend, Rose Fox, 19, covered her ears when she heard the details. "I should move to Alaska, where nothing happens," Fox said.

Counsel and other neighbors said police officers arrived first at the scene. Counsel said officers were putting yellow tape up before the ambulance arrived. "Police officers should learn CPR," Counsel said. "They should carry a first aid kit. They can do more than what we can." The ambulance, according to most neighbors, had taken up 10 to 15 minutes. In some areas of South Los Angeles, some family members of homicide victims say they have waited up to 20 minutes for a paramedic unit.

Authorities said Lett was taken to Lakewood Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:56 p.m.

Lett's girlfriend, Aundrea Stovall, 20, said they had been messaging each other through their cellphones that night. Stovall said they were planning events for her birthday on Thursday. She said Lett did not respond to her last message, which she had sent about 10:23 p.m. that night. It wasn't until she got home minutes later that neighbors told her about her boyfriend.

"I didn't think it was him," said Stovall. "I was exchanging text messages with him."

Counsel said Lett had just turned 18 in July and was new to the area. Authorities said Lett was a resident of Quartz Hill.

Stovall said Lett had moved in with his aunt. She said he had graduated from Highland High School in Palmdale and had enrolled at Santa Monica College the week before. She said Lett wanted to play for the men's college basketball team; tryouts, according to the school's website, are in September.

"He's 6-foot-3," said Stovall, wearing a black shirt and Lett's high school basketball shorts. "He could have been a player for any of the NBA teams."

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Long Beach Homicide Dets. Russ Moss or Terri Hubert at (562) 570-7244.

-- Ruben Vives

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