Surveillance video captured a gun battle between two rival gangs near an after-school Compton youth academy, which has been forced to shut its doors due to the violence.
The shooting, which happened on Dec. 9, had staff at L.A. City Wildcats Youth Academy screaming for kids on the playground to get inside and take cover.
Fortunately, none of the children or staff were injured during the incident.
Police are still searching for the gunmen.
“We’re not open for business,” Derrick Cooper, founder of Wildcat Youth Academy, told KTLA, “And my business is kids.”
Cooper said the plan was to have children return at the start of the new year, but added that the recent violence has grown out of control.
“We have already lost nine kids since I’ve had the program in 27 years. So, I’m already dealing with things of that nature to gang violence. It’s been difficult,” he said.
The youth academy has been a vital resource for kids in Compton and surrounding areas, according to Cooper. Many of the kids often have nowhere else to go immediately after school lets out. The academy currently serves more than 40 children and has another 57 on the waiting list.
“There’s just not a lot of activities for kids in Compton and it shouldn’t be that way,” Cooper said. “If they don’t have activities, they’ll find activities, and those activities are usually illegal or criminal.”
While he’s spoken with city officials and staffers from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, he said little has been done to curb the violence or help the youth academy relocate.
What he needs from county supervisors and city officials in order to keep his doors open is simple, according to Cooper.
“It’s obvious, it’s funding,” he said. “Right now, we’re not able to receive any funding because we don’t have kids here.”
Cooper started a GoFundMe campaign to help the academy relocate. Until he can do that, he said local children will suffer.
“I feel that there should be a lot more being done,” he said. “Part of me feels that no one cares. We should not have to come here and be in fear, and the sad part about it is that our kids don’t understand why this is happening. They have no idea why they can’t come back. This is theirs, they call it the Wildcat House.”