Loved ones are asking for the public’s help for information on the murder of a father and his young daughter in Compton who were caught in the crossfire of rival gang shootings.
With the gunmen still at large, loved ones have been seeking justice for over 20 years. A press conference held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Friday morning announced the reopening of the case once again.
The summer Stephen and Kali were murdered was a violent one in Compton, filled with constant strife and deadly gang-related activity.
Stephen and his daughter were caught in the crossfire as gunfire from passing cars struck and killed them both. They were scrambling for safety on his grandmother’s front porch before they died.
“He was still holding his little girl when he died,” Stephen’s uncle told the Los Angeles Times.
Their death was among a series of related shootings that night, spanning several blocks of Compton and Willowbrook.
“They were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” a loved one said during the Friday press conference.
“In 2019, at the request of family members, both incidents were reviewed by the Homicide Bureau Unsolved Unit and the decision was made to reactivate the cases,” said LASD Lt. Hugo Reynaga. “This decision was primarily made from advancements in DNA technology that were not available back in 2001.”
Stephen was a Los Angeles International Airport worker, a student, and was about to be married when he was killed.
His loved ones said he was not affiliated with any gangs and was making a visit to his grandmother’s home to show off his daughter when they were struck in the head by stray bullets.
LASD detectives believe the suspects responsible for their deaths are part of a local Black gang. Members of rival street gangs were clashing at the time and detectives said a day earlier, 22-year-old Richard Lawrence was killed on the 2000 block of North Grape Avenue.
Although Stephen and his daughter were not the intended targets, the series of shootings that followed may have been in retaliation for Lawrence’s death, officials said.
Sketches of four suspects and two vehicles involved were released, but so far, no arrests have been made. However, detectives believe that modern DNA testing will help them identify at least one suspect involved.
“We’ve been waiting for over 20 years for this to occur and we hope justice is brought to us,” a family member said of the renewed interest in the cold case.
“My uncle and cousin were loved and are loved and will never be forgotten,” said Rashonda Jackson, Stephen’s niece. “We have peace in our hearts knowing that they know they were loved and that justice will be served.”
Anyone with information on the case can call LASD at 1-323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be submitted to “L.A. Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.