In the same South Los Angeles neighborhood where 16-year-old Anthony Weber was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy nearly a week ago, protestors gathered and demanded answers in a shooting where a gun’s still missing.
After Weber was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy last Sunday, law enforcement officials alleged he was armed at the time. But the gun they said he had has still not been found.
On the night of the shooting, some people gathered near the scene in Westmont just after shots rang out. Officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it’s possible one of those bystanders — which they estimated to be around 30 to 40 people — actually took the gun from the scene.
But in the days since, neighbors, local activists and members of the Weber family have spoken out — mostly refuting the Sheriff’s Department’s recollection of events and insisting Weber wasn’t armed when he was shot.
“We’re fed up. We’re not going to keep getting shot down,” Scott Iyzayria, a South L.A. resident, told KTLA during Saturday’s protests.
“Because the way it’s been going, for the last five years, they shoot us down, get away with it and then they do the same thing in another six months,” he said.
Just before the shooting, a 911 caller said a young man on foot was pointing a gun at his car as he drove down West 107th Street, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies arrived to the 1200 block of that street, near Budlong Avenue, at about 8:15 p.m. There, they spotted a young man who matched the suspect’s description. As they approached the young man, they noticed there was a “handgun tucked into the waistband of his pants,” officials later said.
That person was Anthony Weber, and as deputies tried to make contact with him, he ran into a nearby apartment complex, authorities said. The 16-year-old turned toward the deputies and reached down “toward his waistband, where the gun was located that they first saw,” sheriff’s homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner told reporters the following day.
The deputies opened fire, striking Weber several times in his upper torso, Bergner said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Moments later, neighbors, friends and others gathered near the scene.
“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,” a Sheriff’s Department statement later said.
“The gun that they were chasing him for holding and shot him for holding, somebody took that same gun from him?” Cliff Smith, a South L.A. resident, said. “To make themselves the target?
“In what world or in what universe … is that possible?” he asked.
At a meeting held in a nearby church on Wednesday, John Weber demanded answers in the death of his teenage son, the Los Angeles Times reported. “Where’s the gun? Where’s the gun?” he asked officials with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
“I know where the bullets are — they’re right in my baby’s back,” he yelled.
On Saturday, Weber said he contacted the attorney general and requested to be present for his son’s autopsy. Law enforcement officials have not released information about how many times the 16-year-old was shot.
“If I could just get a fair and impartial investigation — that’s what I want,” he said during Saturday’s protests.
The deputy-involved shooting is still being investigated, as Sheriff’s Department officials cope with backlash in a South L.A. neighborhood that’s within a mile of five shooting deaths by law enforcement within the last five years, according to the Times.
Carnell Snell Jr., whose death in 2016 drew widespread outrage and protests, was shot and killed by Los Angeles Police Department officers in an area also near West 107th Street and less than a mile from where Weber was shot.
“We hear them. We know their voices are being heard,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. April Tardy said just ahead of Saturday’s demonstrations. “We just want them to be safe and protest safely.”
Weber was the father of an 8-month-old daughter, and his father told the Times he had just started attending a nearby charter school. Sheriff’s Department officials have said he was part of a gang.
Meanwhile, local activists against racial profiling and police brutality — along with neighbors and friends and family of Weber — have said his death is another case of an unarmed black man or boy being shot dead by law enforcement.
“If the sheriffs can produce a gun, then it’s a different situation,” Smith said. “Until then, they shot an unarmed person.”