A story for every victim

Reward offered in case of father who was gunned down in front of his son in Westmont

Lester Scott Virgil was a coach and mentor to his family and friends, a man who brought people together and helped them meet their goals. 

Now Virgil’s loved ones have a new goal — finding the man who killed the 45-year-old Los Angeles International Airport operations supervisor in front of his young son and friends on Aug. 5, 2016. And they’re hoping a $10,000 reward from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will encourage someone to come forward with a name.

“You have to keep in mind that my brother was the main man in our family,” Johnny Virgil said before Wednesday’s news conference announcing the reward. “He was the guy everybody waited for when we had our get-togethers. He was our man, our guy, with his big hearty laugh. ... He was the glue for everybody.”

On the day he died, Virgil was focused on helping his 12-year-old son prepare for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Staples Center the next day. 

Lester Virgil

His son and teammates were running drills in the driveway of a friend’s home in the 1600 block of West 110th Street in Westmont. Virgil was watching from the porch, talking with another father, when a white sedan pulled up to the curb about 5:45 p.m.

The passenger got out of the car and sprayed the yard with gunfire. The children scattered and were unharmed. But Virgil, a big man with a bad knee, couldn’t get away. He was pronounced dead in the frontyard at 5:50 p.m.

Investigators don’t have a motive, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Cain said after the news conference. There was a lot of gang activity in the neighborhood that summer, he said, but neither Virgil nor the family who lived in the house had any connections with gangs. 

“There’s no reason to believe that house was targeted,” Cain said. “We don’t know if gang members were out to prove themselves or it was a case of mistaken identity. We do know there was an ongoing gang war in that immediate area at that time, and we believe Mr. Virgil was an unfortunate victim of that.”

Investigators are releasing photos of the white sedan in the hopes of jogging someone’s memory, Cain said. The Audi with tinted windows was last seen heading westbound on West 110th Street, between Denker and South Western avenues. 

Virgil didn’t have any enemies, his brother said. “He was a family man with a great job and a great career. And he wasn’t just your everyday dad. He had two grown daughters, and his concentration was on raising that young boy to be a good man.”

During the news conference, one of Virgil’s daughters, Kashira Virgil, described her father as her best friend and imagined what he would say to his assailant if he were alive: 

“Please stop reaching for guns and start reaching for success,” she said, “because we all have families that love and depend on us.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Cain or Det. Dean Camarillo at the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, 323-890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Photos: (Top) Lester Virgil’s family stands together during a news conference announcing a $10,000 reward for information about his killer. Credit: Lillian Peck / Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. (Second) A Sheriff's Department poster shows Lester Virgil and the car his suspected killer rode in.

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