Saturday, May 18, 2024

Few clues in fatal shooting of Crenshaw High basketball star outside South L.A. party

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The cheering crowds that filled the bleachers at Crenshaw High School boys’ basketball games would have seen Quincy Reese giving his all, fighting for rebounds against teenagers taller than him.

But over the weekend, friends, family members and classmates gathered in silence outside the school to mourn the 16-year-old standout athlete, whose senior year and a future filled with possibilities disappeared Saturday night in a burst of gunfire while he was at a party with friends.

Quincy was among a crowd of teenagers outside a hall on 74th Street near Hobart Boulevard in Manchester Square when he was fatally shot, law enforcement officials said.

A dispute occurred before the shooting, Los Angeles Police Capt. Adrian Gonzalez said. Quincy is believed to have been a bystander.

“We don’t believe he had anything to do with what happened,” Gonzalez said.

Friends found Quincy soaked in blood behind a car. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene shortly after the 11:30 p.m. shooting.

Police have not released a motive, a description of a suspect or many other details about the shooting. No other injuries were reported.

“We haven’t stopped working the case from the moment it happened,” said Gonzalez, who oversees the South Bureau Homicide Division. Detectives have some information that they are not releasing yet because of the ongoing investigation, he said.

The event venue at 77 Lounge was rented Saturday night by a parent for a party that was promoted on social media, drawing a large crowd that flowed out onto Western Avenue, said Maurice Cooper, one of the owners of the location.

“I shut down the party at about 10 because so many kids were coming in,” he said.

The parents who rented the space had said they would be present, according to Cooper, who later learned the event was advertised to students from local high schools, and teens were being charged $3 to go in.

Najee Ali, an activist and gang interventionist, said young men associated with rival gangs showed up after the party was promoted on social media. Police could not confirm whether the shooting was gang-related.

Still waiting for answers, friends and family are grappling with the loss of a student who seemed to have a bright future.

Quincy was a committed athlete who hit the gym after practice, played baseball, planned to try out for the football team, and still maintained a 3.4 grade-point average, teammates said.

AJ Robinson, 18, a former teammate, said he distinctly remembers meeting Quincy, whom he described as a dedicated player ready to push his teammates — and still crack a joke.

“He’d just put a smile on your face,” Robinson said. “He just had a good spirit, very funny, and easy to talk to.”

Quincy, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard who had just finished his junior year, wasn’t shy to go up against bigger, stronger players on the court.

“He’d be down there throwing elbows, trying to get that rebound, sprinting to the end,” Robinson said. “He’d be doing everything that nobody else was doing, trying to get that ball.”

A vertical frame of a person wearing a number 10 basketball jersey, posing for the camera, slightly smiling.

Crenshaw basketball player Quincy Reese, 16, was killed in a shooting Saturday night.

(Robert S. Helfman)

Ed Waters, Crenshaw High’s boys basketball coach, said he’d planned to tap Quincy and one of his childhood friends to be captains next season.

Quincy was full of potential, Waters said, adding that about 50 small colleges had been keeping an eye on his games. He tended to joke around with his teammates, drawing them in with his humor.

“Sometimes it’s about trying to unlock these kids to be leaders, and sometimes acting silly is an unlock, and he was silly,” Waters said. “He just made everyone comfortable.”

Isom Taylor, a senior point guard, said Quincy immediately made him feel welcomed when he transferred into Crenshaw High’s basketball program.

“He was a really bright person and was always happy, laughing or joking around,” he said. “He’s a person I consider to be a little brother.”

Quincy’s father, Quincy Reese Sr., said in an interview with The Times that his “world changed” when his son was born. Quincy was a gentleman who loved his teammates and was not one to back down from a challenge, his father said.

He said that his son had been with him all day Saturday before the party and that he was waiting to pick him up from the event.

“He was just a regular kid that had a nice future coming his way,” Reese said.

The shooting comes as violent crime against minors in Los Angeles appeared to be on the decline.

So far this year, homicides involving minors are at the lowest level since 2020. Not including Quincy’s death, there have been 11 homicides involving juvenile victims in 2023.

According to a Times analysis of LAPD data from January 2020 to June 7, 2023, the most recent data available, this year’s rate of youth homicides is 1.8 killings a month, compared with 2.5 in 2021. After several years of rising crime involving juvenile victims, the city is seeing an average of 319.5 violent crimes against minors a month, down from 427.25 a month in 2022.

Quincy’s killing left his friends and teammates devastated.

Robinson, who said he didn’t attend the party, learned that Quincy was shot early Sunday, when his phone kept vibrating and woke him up.

It was then he saw a video on social media of someone facedown in a pool of blood, with a laughing emoji attached to the short video.

He was told it was Quincy.

Gonzalez said detectives are aware of a social media post that circulated related to the shooting and are vetting it, but he cautioned that the post may not ultimately be connected to the shooter.

By 3 a.m., Robinson walked out of his house, confused and trying to get some air.

One of his teammates who lives nearby texted him, and he went over to his house. Neither of them could go back to sleep, so they spent the dark predawn hours mourning their friend.

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