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Sammy Samaja-Lee Cush IV, 14

Sammy Samaja-Lee Cush IV, a 14-year-old black boy, was fatally shot on Saturday, June 16, in the 900 block of North Rose Avenue in Compton, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.  

The shooting occurred during a large outdoor party to celebrate a child’s first Communion, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza. 

Witnesses said three black youths wearing dark clothing and hoodies that concealed their faces walked toward an apartment complex around 11 p.m., Mendoza said. 

“All three were armed with some sort of gun, and as they walked down the driveway, they opened fire, specifically toward a couple of males who were next to a car,” Mendoza said. “One of those males, along with, we believe, other people in that area, armed themselves and began to return fire.”

One of the youths, identified later as Sammy, was shot in the torso during the exchange, Mendoza said. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:37 p.m., according to coroner’s records.

The other two youths ran away, and witnesses told investigators they think one had been shot as well, Mendoza said. Investigators found blood evidence but haven’t identified anyone else who might have been struck, he said.

Witnesses also reported seeing a car at the end of the driveway when the shooting began, Mendoza said, but it’s not clear whether the vehicle was connected with the shooters.

Investigators did not find a gun next to Sammy, Mendoza said, “but we did recover a weapon within the scene and we believe it was a weapon used by one of the suspects.”

No one else at the party was injured. “There were so many people there, it could have been very bad,” Mendoza said. 

The apartments were quiet two days after the shooting, with only a few remnants of yellow crime tape remaining. Investigators worked through the night and most of the following day gathering evidence and interviewing people who had been at the party, said two Latina residents who refused to give their names. They said it was a miracle no one else was shot, especially children who had been playing inside an inflatable bounce house just feet from the gunfire. 

A few steps away, a car in the driveway had all of its windows shot out, they said.

One of the women, who has five daughters, said she won’t let her children play outside anymore. “I want to move away,” she said, “but I don’t know if we can find another place.”

The party involved family and neighbors, she said, and neither Sammy nor his companions had been invited. “This was a first Communion party, and they came to do some damage. Who would do such a thing at a kids’ party?”

Investigators don’t have a motive for the shooting, Mendoza said, and they haven’t confirmed reports that the shooters were involved in a Compton-area gang.

Sammy lived with his family in another part of Compton, Mendoza said.

Most of the people suspected of returning fire at the party left before deputies arrived, Mendoza said, but the man who had been standing beside the car remained. He was questioned but has not been arrested. 

Investigators will turn their findings over to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to determine whether charges are warranted, Mendoza said. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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