A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by a deputy in the unincorporated Westmont neighborhood near South Los Angeles Sunday night, according to the Sheriff’s Department, which said investigators think someone may have removed the teen’s gun from the scene.
The incident began when deputies responded to 911 caller who described a young man on foot pointing a gun at the caller’s car as he was driving down West 107th Street. Deputies responded to the 1200 block, near Budlong Avenue, about 8:15 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated in a news release.
The two arriving deputies saw a person who matched the caller’s description of the young man with the gun, and they attempted to contact him. As they approached, the deputies said they noticed a “handgun tucked into the waistband of his pants,” the release stated.
The person, later determined to be a 16-year-old boy, refused their commands to stop and ran from the deputies and into an apartment complex’s courtyard, authorities said.
When he turned toward them, the teen was “reaching down toward his waistband, where the gun was located that they first saw,” sheriff’s homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
One of the deputies opened fire, Bergner said, striking the teen several times in the upper body. As 30 to 40 people entered the courtyard, many of them angry about the shooting, the deputies called for backup.
“While waiting for additional deputies and trying to control the situation, it is believed that someone may have been able to gain possession of the gun and take it,” said an updated sheriff’s statement.
The teen was identified late Monday morning by the coroner’s office as Anthony Jacob Weber. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Numerous posts on social media indicated he went by “TR” and had a new baby.
Bergner said one of several witnesses interviewed by investigators in part backed up the deputies’ description of events. The witness said he or she couldn’t tell if the teen had a gun when deputies approached the boy at the back of the apartment complex, but deputies could be heard saying “don’t reach for it, don’t reach for it,” as though the teen had a weapon, the captain said.
But on Sunday night, an emotional woman who said she witnessed the shooting described a very different scene to KTLA. She said deputies indicated they were serving a search warrant at the complex.
“I saw the police shoot at him for no reason,” the woman, Ashley Briggs, said. “I just stepped to the side and they started shooting at him.”
Briggs, who described “TR” as her best friend, said about 12 shots were fired. The teen had his shirt off and “nothing on him” when deputies arrived, Briggs said.
The scene remained volatile hours after the shooting on Sunday night, with relatives gathered on the street and many deputies present.
Speaking Monday alongside the leader of the sheriff’s South L.A. bureau, Bergner said the two deputies who responded were “pretty articulate in describing specific features of the weapon that lead us to believe they did see a gun.” The teen’s shirt was cut off by responding paramedics, the captain said.
Bergner reiterated that authorities believe that, after the shooting, someone took “the gun that was in the possession of the juvenile at the time of the incident.”
The teen was locally known as a gang member and the apartment complex is a known hangout for gang members, Bergner said.
Briggs said the victim had a baby son, but the teen’s mother spoke out on Monday afternoon, saying he had a 9-month-old daughter named Violet.
“I need it to be known that my son was a good son,” Weber’s mother Demetra Johnson said, according to KPCC. “He was a great brother. He had the biggest heart. He was a wonderful father. … He didn’t deserve this. He doesn’t have that kind of heart that deserved this kind of killing.”
In a recording of the 911 call that prompted the deputies’ response, the caller said he was driving down 107th Street when a young man in a black T-shirt and jeans pointed a handgun at him, walking into the street toward the car.
The sheriff’s South L.A. station receives on average about 10 calls per week reporting a man with a gun, South L.A. station Capt. April Tardy said. She called it a “high violent crime” area.
Anyone with further information about the shooting is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 323-890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Sheriff’s Department said there was a report of a young man pointing a handgun at motorists, when the department actually indicated a single motorist. The story also gave the wrong neighborhood for the shooting location and misspelled Briggs’ first name. The story has been updated.