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Police searching for witnesses in five killings over Labor Day weekend

Los Angeles police detectives are looking for witnesses in five killings after a spate of shootings over the weekend in South L.A.

The LAPD has deployed extra resources in the impacted neighborhoods in an effort to prevent more shootings, said Deputy Chief Bob Green, who oversees the South Bureau.

"I need to provide a sense of calm in the community," Green said.

None of the killings appear to be related.

The violence started about 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Michael White, a 30-year-old man, was standing in the back parking area of an apartment complex in the 5400 block of South Western Avenue in Vermont Square when at least two men walked up to a gate leading to the alley and shot him, police said.

Monday was deadlier.

Detectives got a call of a shooting about 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the dinosaur-themed Green Forest Car Wash in Vermont-Slauson. Two men were shot about 30 feet from a replica of a triceratops.

In the incident, two vehicles pulled into the parking lot of the car wash. People, apparently in an argument, got out of the cars screaming at each other. A gun was pulled, and two men — later identified by police as 33-year-old Lamont Jones and 26-year-old Mario King — later died at a hospital.

That evening, another shooting call came over the scanners.

About 7:25 p.m., James Jay Smith, 20, and a 17-year-old were at West Adams Boulevard and South Dalton Avenue when they were shot multiple times. 

Smith died on the way to the hospital, and the 17-year-old is expected to survive.

About ninety minutes later, Brittney Barnett, 25, and Darnell Paige, 30, were standing in an alley in the 3100 block of Ninth Avenue when a person got out of a light-colored SUV and shot both of them.

Barnett died at the scene, and Paige was taken to a hospital. Police said he is in stable but critical condition. Her father, Eugene Barnett, said he was notified of his daughter’s death by her 11-year-old son, who came to his house Monday night.

"I think my mom is dead," he told his grandfather. Brittney Barnett also leaves behind two other children, 1 and 7.

"It's always a matter of inches, because we could have had six people," said LAPD Det. Sal LaBarbera. LaBarbera worked all day Monday. He didn’t go home until Tuesday afternoon.

"It’s been several years since we’ve had so many homicides close together like that," he said.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Brittney Barnett, 25, was shot to death in Jefferson Park on Monday. Credit: Family photo

Note: A previous version of this post said that Barnett was killed in the 3600 block of Ninth Avenue. She was killed in the 3100 block.

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