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Gwendolyn Taylor, 61 [Updated]

Gwendolyn Elaine Taylor (2010-12-12)

Gwendolyn Taylor, a 61-year-old black woman, was fatally shot Sunday, Dec. 12, in the 400 block of West Beach Avenue in Inglewood, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

The shooting occurred at 4:45 p.m. at Rogers Park.

A man opened fire on a 15-year-old boy, who hid behind a parked vehicle, said Lt. Michael Marshall of the Inglewood Police Department. Stray bullets hit the teen in the arm and Taylor in the rib cage as she was leaving the park’s building.

Both victims, who police say apparently did not know each other, were taken to the hospital. The boy was treated and released, but Taylor died after surgery, Marshall said.

Taylor was at the park for an annual Christmas dinner with fellow veterans' families. The event had just wrapped up, and Jose Taylor Jr. and his wife of 40 years were loading leftovers and their grandkids' toys into the car. Gwen was on her way to get the last of their stuff, when she collapsed.

Taylor thought his wife had fainted — too many helpings, maybe. "Poppy, get Granny off of me!" their youngest grandson shouted. Gwen had been holding the boy's hand when she fell, and had pinned his leg to the ground.

Smoke from what sounded like firecrackers going off nearby blew away in the breeze. Taylor pulled the child's leg free and rolled his wife over. Her patterned black blouse, which she wore for pictures and special occasions, was bloody. Others in the park Saturday afternoon ran off.

"Come on, Gwen, talk to us," Taylor shouted, as his grandchildren, 12, 8, and 5, looked on. The bullet that struck her must have passed just inches above the youngest boy's head, Taylor said.

"I'm gonna be all right," the 61-year-old woman said.

"And then her eyes rolled back. And that's the last we heard from her. I'm still slapping myself. It's like a dream. Forty years together," Taylor said Monday, surrounded by family in his cramped South Los Angeles home. His wife was rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed surgery — quart after quart of blood transfused only to bleed out again.

Authorities say her killing was random. They say she was caught in what appears to be a gang shooting. A man walking through the parking lot pulled out a handgun and began shooting, police said. His target, a 16-year-old boy, ducked behind a parked car.

Despite living in an area where gang activity is common, this is the Taylors' first direct brush with violence.

Gwen, they said, was the matriarch — four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

"Where we live, we all [live] in poverty," her son, Thomas Taylor, 34, recalled.

When he was a boy, his mother insisted on giving away sugar and bread to other families in need. "Why you giving food to other people?" Thomas recalled asking. "Stop being selfish, it's not just about you," his mother would reply.

Inglewood police ask anyone who witnessed the shooting to contact homicide investigators at (310) 412-5246 or the department’s anonymous hotline at (888) 412-7463.

[Update Jan. 19: $25,000 reward offered in killing of Inglewood grandmother]

-- Jason Felch and Robert Faturechi

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