Okpara Khamisi Wright, 19
Okpara Wright, a 19-year-old black man, was shot and killed Saturday, April 23, on Mary Avenue and East 87th Place in Florence-Firestone, an unincorporated neighborhood in Los Angeles County, according to county coroner’s records.
L.A. County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene about 9:28 p.m. after residents reported gunfire in the area, said Lt. Dave Coleman. Wright was found lying in the street with multiple gunshot wounds, Coleman said.
Wright was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:59 p.m., according to coroner’s records.
Coleman said investigators have no information about the shooting. “All we have are reports of gunfire,” he said. “No one is giving us any information.” Investigators say the shooting may have been gang-related, Coleman said.
Early Monday afternoon, the spot where Wright died was filled with candles, posters and stuffed animals, left from a memorial the night before. A large Smurf doll in a dark blue bandana leaned among the still-burning candles.
An ice cream truck slowly drove through the neighborhood of quiet homes. A boy took a younger boy by the hand as they hurried past the site on their way home from school. A woman stopped to read the poster, her lips moving silently as she crossed herself.
Another woman, Carol Smith, stopped to sign the poster and said she’d known Wright all his life.
“He was a little skinny guy — that’s why they called him Chicken Hawk. He looked like a Smurf baby a little bit, with his round eyes, but he never wore any of this,” she said, poking at the bandana with distaste.
Wright’s grandparents lived less than two blocks from where he was shot, she said.
“He was a real good kid, funny and stuff,” Smith said. “All I’d ever seen him doing was helping the kids, you know? Walking home with them from school, or pushing the little kids in the park swings. ... This [shootings] happens a lot around here. ... It's too much.”
Wright’s family declined to be interviewed, saying they weren’t ready to talk about the second fatal shooting in their family.
The first happened April 2, 2009, when Wright’s father, Okpara Khamisi Wright, 35, was shot and killed in Long Beach. The elder Wright was at a gas station with another man when a group of men approached them, got into an argument and opened fire, Long Beach Police reported.
Two Long Beach men, Rogelio Zavala, then 29, and Enrique Sanchez, then 22, were charged with murder in the case. The charges against Zavala were later dismissed according to Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Sanchez was convicted of murder and attempted murder in December of 2010 and sentenced to 90 years to life in prison in January 2011.
Anyone with information about this month's shooting is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
Photo: Candles, posters and a Smurf doll mark the spot where Okpara Wright was killed in Florence-Firestone on April 23. Credit: Jeanette Marantos / For The Times