Suspects arrested in killing of Oscar Duncan

By Vince Echavaria

Los Angeles police have arrested two suspects in connection with the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old youth pastor and Boys & Girls Club employee in Venice earlier this month.

Police announced that suspects Hopeton Bereford Parsley, 22, and Kevin Dwayne Green, 28, were arrested less than a week after Venice native Oscar Duncan was shot to death outside his home in the 600 block of Santa Clara Avenue in the Oakwood Neighborhood of Venice June 4.

Green, a suspected gang member, was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office June 12 with one count of murder with gun use and street gang allegations, said Deputy District Attorney Teresa Magno of the Hardcore Gang Division. Green was additionally charged with a separate count of second degree robbery and one count of a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with a May 21 incident, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges June 12 at the Los Angeles Superior Court Airport Courthouse. Prosecutors asked that his bail be set at $2 million.

No charges have yet been filed against Parsley in the death of Duncan and the investigation is continuing.

The arrests came after Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl and the Los Angeles Police Department announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects.

Lt. John Radtke, commander of the LAPD West Bureau homicide unit, said police believe the suspects in the killing may have been gang members, but he and others stressed that Duncan had no affiliation with gangs. The Venice resident was instead involved in gang intervention efforts as a youth pastor.

“This young man had two feet firmly planted in goodness,” said Erikk Aldridge, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, where Duncan worked since 2006.

Police said Duncan was standing with his girlfriend outside his family’s home when a group of African American male suspects pulled up in a white vehicle and jeered at his girlfriend. Duncan walked up to the vehicle to see who was inside, when a gang name was shouted and one of the occupants shot Duncan in the head, police said.

Radtke said police don’t believe Duncan was specifically targeted.

Capt. John Peters, the commander of LAPD Pacific division, called Duncan’s death a “tragic and senseless act of violence.”

“Oscar was struck down in the prime of his life, at 23 years old. He was a gentleman with so much potential,” Peters said. “He committed his young life to helping people and mentoring kids to help them stay away from the tragedies that we see on the streets every day.”

In announcing the $50,000 reward, Rosendahl recalled another “senseless” shooting that took the lives of local youths Salvador “Junior” Diaz and Alan Mateo at Penmar Park in Venice last year. The councilman spoke of Duncan’s leadership as a Boys & Girls Club of Venice employee and youth minister.

“He was a true model for young people in this day and age,” Rosendahl said.

Duncan was a lifelong Venice community member who attended Broadway Elementary School, Mark Twain Middle School and graduated from Venice High School in 2006. As a youth, he played basketball and baseball at the Oakwood Recreation Center and football for the Venice Bulldogs. He became captain of the football team at Venice High, where he was also crowned homecoming king.

Duncan first got involved with the Boys & Girls Club at the age of 6, and his dedication as a member earned him the club’s highest honor, Youth of the Year, in 2006. That same year he took a position as a summer counselor and later worked as a music studio director and assistant teen coordinator. Aldridge said Duncan was set to receive a full-time position in the Teen Services department at the time of his death.

A singer, musician and producer, Duncan was known as “Choir Boy” by his peers.

He became a licensed minister in 2010 while serving in the Crossing Jordan/Slaughterhouse Outreach Ministries in Compton. As a youth minister at the Greater Zion Church in Compton, Duncan oversaw 1,500 young people, said pastor Michael Fisher.

“He was a great role model and a mentor,” Fisher said. “He loved his family; he was a family man.”

Aldridge noted that Duncan’s main priorities in life were his family, the Venice community, his faith and music, particularly gospel-inspired songs.

Duncan’s aunt, Jacqueline Harris, remembered how he loved working with the youngsters at the Boys & Girls Club and that he was someone who loved all people.

“Oscar was a people person. He had a caretaker’s personality and was always considerate of someone else,” Harris said.

Duncan is survived by his mother Belvery Brown-Duncan; his father Oscar Duncan, Jr.; brother Curtis L. Nettles; sister Terrevia Duncan; grandmothers Gimetta Duncan and Lela Brown-Blakey; grandfathers Oscar Sr. and Eddie Lee Brown; aunts Barbara, Patricia, Linda, Tina, Deborah, Elaine, Jackie and Roshea; uncles Edward, Edwin, Dusean and Vincent; cousins and friends.

A funeral service is scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday, June 15 at the First Baptist Church, 685 Westminster Ave., Venice. A reception will follow at the Oakwood Recreation Center.

The Boys & Girls Club will also host a Celebration of Oscar Night at 5 p.m. Monday, June 18.