With her killer still at large, the murder of 17-year-old Kristine Carman in Marina del Rey leaves many questions, few answers
By Gary Walker
Police are still searching for the gunman who shot and killed a 17-year-old girl last Wednesday in the Marina Marketplace parking lot off Mindanao Way and Glencoe Avenue in Marina del Rey.
Kristine Carman, who was visiting from Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head, according to an LAPD bulletin. Police found Carman’s body at about 8 p.m. on Jan. 6 in the back of a sport utility vehicle parked between the Marina del Rey post office and a Panda Express.
Witnesses have told police that shots were fired near Jerry’s Famous Deli before the SUV fled a short distance to the other side of the parking lot.
Police have described the suspect as a black man last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and blue beanie. He fled in a dark-colored SUV, possibly toward the Marina (90) Freeway onramp nearby.
The LAPD statement describes the motive for the shooting as unknown.
CBS Los Angeles and KTLA have reported that investigators believe Carman was riding in the car with older sister Lacey Carman and her sister’s boyfriend, who had arranged a deal online to sell two pounds of marijuana to an unfamiliar buyer. They report that an argument broke out when the buyer tried to take the drugs without paying and fired a gun into the vehicle during the confrontation.
Police officials contacted by The Argonaut have declined to confirm or deny those reports, and others have failed to return numerous calls.
Whether security camera footage related to the shooting exists remains unclear.
Helen Estrada, an employee of the Panini Café restaurant adjacent to the post office, told The Argonaut that she heard screams from inside the vehicle while it was parked where officers later found Carman’s body inside.
“My co-worker said she heard someone scream. We saw that the SUV was parked on the sidewalk and then I heard [screaming] too,” Estrada said.
Former Venice Neighborhood Council President Linda Lucks was shopping at the CVS Pharmacy near Jerry’s Famous Deli when the shooting occurred.
“A man ran in and said, ‘No one go outside. There’s been a shooting,’” Lucks recalled. “All my years living in Venice and I was never this close to any violence.”
An employee of Jerry’s Famous Deli said restaurant employees did not witness the shooting.
Locals who came upon the crime scene expressed shock and disbelief about such a crime happening in what’s generally perceived as a safe area.
Several hours after the shooting, a post to Lacey Carman’s Facebook account read: “My younger sister was brutally murdered in cold blood in front of me in a robbery gone wrong.”
Carman’s father, John Carman of Texas, told CBS Los Angeles and KTLA during a brief interview on Skype last week that Lacey Carman was “inconsolable” and in such a state of grief that she hadn’t told him everything that happened that night.
The day after the shooting, Lacey Carman posted a GoFundMe page seeking donations of $15,000 to create a Life Gem (a diamond created from carbon remains such as hair or ashes) to memorialize her murdered sister. The page describes Kristine as the second child in a family of six and as “someone so pure and innocent, undeserving of the cruel world’s greed.”
John Carman told television news reporters that Kristine was visiting L.A. to consider starting her adult life here and that she hoped to one day attend UCLA. News agencies have reported that Kristine was a student at Cypress Creek High School in Houston, but Cypress Fairbanks School District spokeswoman Nicole Ray said Kristine was attending Jersey Village High School in Texas but had left school last year before the semester ended.
Following TV news reports that an attempted drug deal may have led up to the shooting, several comments left on the GoFundMe page have attacked Lacey Carman with criticism for purportedly involving Kristine in a dangerous situation.
A person claiming to be Kristine’s mother fired back: “To all of you who think you know the truth and think you have any right to judge anyone in my family, think again. … The media doesn’t have all the facts and those facts will come after the guy is caught.”
Anyone with information about Kristine Carman’s murder is asked to call LAPD homicide investigators at (213) 382-9470 or to leave an anonymous tip at (800) 222-8477.