A 17-year-old Venice High School student was shot to death during an apparent gang-related fight on a parking lot at the high school shortly after school ended Monday, June 5th, police said.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Pacific Community police are interviewing witnesses and continuing to search for the suspect who allegedly shot Agustin Contreras in the chest at 3:10 p.m.
Contreras, a junior at Venice High School who was not involved in gangs, was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m., police said.
The alleged shooter — who is described as a black man, approximately 18-25 years old, with short hair and wearing a white T-shirt and jeans — does not appear to have been a student at the high school, LAPD Pacific Detective Mike DePasquale said.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials said security was increased as a precaution at Venice High School Tuesday, June 6th, with six school police officers and an LAPD unit on campus.
The high school, located at 13000 Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista, has a student enrollment of 3,200.
Grief counselors were also at the school to help the students cope with the loss of one of their classmates.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation that occurred here,” LAUSD spokeswoman Susan Cox said.
“Our priority is always safety, not only for the students but the staff as well. The school is safe and instruction will be going on.”
Authorities said the incident reportedly started as a fistfight between a few black and Latino students in front of the high school and eventually spilled onto the faculty parking lot.
Contreras’ two younger brothers were reportedly involved in the fight with at least five black individuals, and Contreras entered the fight to protect his brothers, police said.
During the struggle, one of the black individuals pulled out a handgun and shot Contreras once in the chest, police allege.
The shooter then reportedly ran from the school with three other suspects, DePasquale said.
A school police officer, who had attempted to break up the fight before the shooting, rendered aid to Contreras and called for assistance, Cox said.
LAPD units quickly responded to the scene.
A junior at Venice High School who was outside the school when the shooting occurred, said he heard a shot just after the bell had rung.
“It sounded like fireworks,” the student said. “Everyone started running and went over there (parking lot) to see what happened.”
Venice Boulevard eastbound was temporarily closed from Lincoln Boulevard to Beethoven Street following the shooting.
Police set up a perimeter in the Oakwood Neighborhood of Venice to search for the alleged shooter and three additional suspects, DePasquale said.
No arrests were made, but two people were detained and released a short time later, DePasquale said.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact LAPD Pacific homicide detectives at (310) 482-6313. On weekends and during off-hours, call 1-877-529-3855. (877-LAWFULL).
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who was at Venice High School after the shooting, said city and school officials need to “take a hard look” at what can be done to prevent such incidents from occurring at schools.
“This is the most serious it gets,” Rosendahl said.
The councilman had scheduled a town hall meeting Tuesday, June 6th, at the Oakwood Recreation Center in Venice to address the rising racial tension and recent gun violence in the Oakwood Neighborhood.