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Toddler, Seven Others Wounded in Watts Drive-By Attack

October 31, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Gang-related violence killed two 17-year-olds and wounded at least 13, including a toddler who was shot in the head, after 200 police officers conducted an anti-gang sweep of the area.

Police said 15-month-old Dalafayette Polk was struck in the head by a shotgun blast Sunday night during a drive-by attack on a birthday party in the Watts section of Los Angeles. The boy was in critical condition today at Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center, said nursing supervisor Sarah Patterson.

The boy’s mother, Sheila Williams, was in good condition with a gunshot wound to the foot, said Patterson. Eight others were wounded in the attack.

The shooters shouted gang slogans as they drove by and opened fire, but the people attending the party apparently were not gang members, said Lt. O.L. Johnson. The motive for the attack was unknown and there were no arrests.

″We were across the street at a birthday party and heard shots and smelled burned rubber,″ said neighbor Shyolanda Montana, 12. ″Everybody was just starting to leave when they got shot.″

The shooting occurred 16 hours after 200 police officers ended a two-night, anti-gang sweep, arresting 365 people, including 193 reputed gang members, said Officer Richard Dugerian. The offenses included driving under the influence, curfew violations and outstanding felony and misdemeanor warrants.

In nearby Long Beach, 17-year-old Danny Romero was gunned down Sunday night after neighbors had repeatedly called police to report gang trouble brewing.

Neighbors said gang problems have grown worse in the neighborhood in the past months because of a turf war. Resident Barney Hellman said Sunday night’s trouble began when 15 youngsters began throwing bottles at cars.

Long Beach police Sgt. Robert Hohl confirmed that police received several calls about the disturbance, but added that reports of bottles being thrown would not be considered a high priority for police.

Also Sunday, 17-year-old Louis Orellana was shot and killed by rival gang members while he was walking with friends in Hollywood, said Detective Andy Monsue. No arrests were made.

On Saturday, three officers answering a report of a shooting outside a party attended by gang members came upon a man allegedly firing at a teen- ager, said Detective Sid Nuckles. The gunman ignored orders to stop shooting and drop his weapon, and the three officers fired 28 shots, striking him four times, said Nuckles.

The gunman was in serious condition at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and the teen-ager was treated for a minor gunshot wound.

In another shooting, two men shouting gang slogans from a car fired at least six times with a pistol and a shotgun at a reputed gang member and a woman in the city’s southside early Sunday, police said.

The woman was taken to Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center with a shotgun wound to the abdomen, said Officer Charles Walton.

Update hourly