"You never know, i mean, you know what you've got, but you never really, really know 'til it's over and it's all gone." - Carresha Skiffer on the killing of her 14-year-old son Elawnzae.
Saturday night, Nov 9, after working out, Elawnzae Peebles was walking toward 47th Street and Kansas Avenue in Vermont Square. He was roughly 200 feet from his cousin's house where he had been living for the last two months. You know what's coming.
One, maybe two cars rolled up on Kansas Avenue. Gunshots. Elawnzae, a Manual Arts HIgh School student, was struck. He managed to run around the corner to 46th Street. But, there, a shooter finished off the boy, according to the street. Elawnzae was not a gang member, according to everybody, including the police.
Monday, at the first shooting scene, there was a hasty memorial - a photo of a smiling boy surrounded by murder candles - the grim urban prop known on almost every corner of the Southside of Los Angeles. Elawnzae's grandmother, who had raised him, arrived as local television news stations were filming that familiar, awful tribute.
"Is this where it happened?" grandma Brenda Chatma asked in a weary voice. She bowed her head and decried the violence. She had raised the boy when his mother was unable to.
Standing solemnly on Kansas Avenue, his cousin, Josiah, 15, and his friends, Wisdom Muhammad, 17, and Elijah Phillips, 15, told how Elawnzae kept to himself, never bothered anyone, liked to crack jokes and loved to eat.
"He was little, but, man, could he eat," said Elijah. "We just went to Denny's the other day. He got the unlimited pancakes and a smoothie."
"Mango," said his dejected couisn Joisah.
"He almost ate all the pancakes there," said Wisdom with a sad laugh.
A minute later, a member of the local gang, the Rollin 40s Crips, walked up and tried to console Elawnzae's mother and aunt.
"He was a good kid," said the 25-year-old gang member who asked that his name not be used. "Hell, no, he wasn't in the 40s or any gang. I used to tell him to stay in school. It ain't the world, it's the people in it, You feel me?"
Elawnzae had been living in Lancaster with his aunt Falesha - who gave him his unique name - but moved to Los Angeles in September to be closer to his mother Carresha.
"I talked to him on the phone after he worked out Saturday night," said Carresha. "The last thing I said to him was "You get home safe."