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Saturday, Feb. 24
The Indiana Daily Student

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Teen arrested in killing of anti-gang counselor

LOS ANGELES — When Ronald “Looney” Barron urged a young graffiti tagger to put away his paint cans, he was doing what he viewed as his mission — steering kids away from crime — but he paid for it with his life.

Los Angeles police arrested a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday, saying he would be charged with murder for shooting Barron to death Sunday night after Barron confronted him.

A 40-year-old former member of the notorious Crips gang, Barron had become a respected anti-gang counselor who preached against violence in schools and jails.

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said detectives started working on the case shortly after Barron died of multiple gunshot wounds at a hospital. They soon found a surveillance videotape from a business near the scene of the shooting that showed a tagger at work.

Smith said they then turned to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s police department, adding “they know taggers better than anyone.”

Two officers immediately identified the suspect, who was picked up by detectives at his parents’ house. The arrest was made within 36 hours.

“It breaks all of our hearts where something like this happens in our community,” Smith said. “It’s a tragic incident.”

Police and city officials were quick to note the shooting was a random, isolated incident to avoid rumors that may result in retaliatory violence. The Mayor’s Office on Gang Reduction and Youth Development called a meeting of gang intervention workers Monday to get the word out that the killing was not gang-related or racially motivated.

Those who knew him said Barron’s charisma and the sincerity of his stance against violence, as well as his street cred as a former member of the Mansfield Crips and a former inmate of Pelican Bay State Prison, made him an especially effective gang intervention worker.

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