Man Fatally Shot in Gardena While Returning From Church Event Is ID’d; 2 Others Injured

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A 20-year-old man who was fatally shot while driving after a church function was identified on Sunday.

William Fifita's family provided this image. The 20-year-old was fatally shot in Gardena while returning from a church event on March 20, 2016.

William Fifita's family provided this image. The 20-year-old was fatally shot in Gardena while returning from a church event on March 20, 2016.

The shooting left two others injured, and occurred shortly after 2 a.m. in the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue in Gardena, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The location borders Hawthorne.

The male driver was killed, and identified as William Fifita, a 20-year-old resident of Adelanto, by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

The victims' vehicle was making a northbound turn onto Crenshaw from Rosecrans when a sedan pulled up alongside their car. At least one person inside the sedan opened fire, striking three of the four occupants, according to sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch.

Witnesses reported hearing multiple shots fired.

“I was just in my room when I heard gunshots,” said Luis Hernandez, a resident of Gardena. “I heard like three gunshots. Next, I heard four to five gunshots again.”

After the shooting, the vehicle continued its turn and came to a stop in a nearby fast food restaurant's parking lot, Jauch said. The other vehicle fled eastbound on Rosecrans, according to a sheriff's news release.

Surveillance video from the restaurant captured the victims' vehicle swerving into the parking lot before crashing into what appears to be a guardrail.

The driver was shot in the upper torso and died at the scene, the release stated.

Fifita was described by family members as a football player and Eagle Scout who had just returned from a two-year church mission in Guatemala.

He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had attended a dance for young Latter-day Saints members before the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“He's a good boy,” a man who identified himself as the victim's uncle by marriage told the Times. “It was a shock for everybody.”

Two other victims, both men, also suffered gunshot wounds to the upper torso and were rushed to a local hospital. Their conditions were not immediately known.

The female passenger was not wounded.

One witness reported hearing yelling prior to the shots being fired.

“I was on the corner … and I saw two cars, they are yelling at each other," said Kamal Manzary. “They started shooting. I heard the people shooting. I ran away."

Manzary told KTLA he heard at least five to seven shots fired. He immediately dialed 911.

An investigation was underway into a car-to-car shooting in Gardena that left one dead and two others injured on March 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

An investigation was underway into a car-to-car shooting in Gardena that left one dead and two others injured on March 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

An investigation is ongoing, and authorities are still working to determine the circumstances that led up to the shooting.

“At this point, we have very little to go by," Jauch said in an interview a short time after the incident.

The Sheriff's Department did not immediately have a detailed description of the vehicle, which Jauch had described only as a dark-colored sedan. Manzary contradicted the information, however, saying he observed the gunfire coming from a white Kia.

A description of the possible shooter or shooters was not provided.

“It’s unfortunate. You have four adults returning from a church function … it’s just a senseless murder," Jauch said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be left through Crime Stoppers by dialing 800-222-8477. 

KTLA's Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.