1 Dead, 1 Wounded in Shooting Outside South L.A. Church

An investigation continued Thursday after one man was killed and another was wounded in a shooting outside a church in the Westmont area of South Los Angeles, authorities said.

church-shooting

Sheriff’s deputies are seen near a church in South L.A. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

The incident occurred about 6:54 p.m. Wednesday in the 8800 block of South Vermont Avenue, where a man was escorting his wife and daughter to church when he stopped to talk to another man near a parking lot entrance, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

As the two men conversed outside the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ, they were confronted by a man carrying a firearm.

“After a brief exchange, the suspect opened fire on both victims,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. Both men were wounded by gunfire.

The gunman fled on foot and was last seen running westbound on 89th street, west of Vermont Avenue.

The two victims were transported to a hospital, where one was pronounced dead and the other was in critical condition, authorities said.

Coroner’s officials identified the deceased man as John Matthews, 36, of Los Angeles.

Anthony L. Williams, the church’s pastor, said Matthews was not a member of the congregation. According to Williams, Matthews was simply walking home with his family at the time of the shooting.

The critically injured victim reportedly works for the church as a security guard. Relatives identified him as 35-year-old Johnny Hardwick.

“This spot right here they call ‘death alley,’ and it’s really seeming to come true,” said Nathan Long, Hardwick’s cousin. “That’s ridiculous. This needs to stop. … He’s trying to praise the Lord and then you shoot him. Like, come on. You’re going to hell for that.

“Turn yourself in. Do the right thing,” Long said. “That’s the best thing you could do, is turn yourself in.”