“I went crazy,” Sherika Simms says quietly of the realization that she would be unable to help her brother.
Twenty-two-year-old Maurio Proctor, two years her junior but more like her twin – the boy that had followed her everywhere she went as a child and wanted to do everything she did – had been gunned down in front of her and all she could do was watch his killers drive away.
When the Impala had first rolled through Jordan Downs around 1 p.m. that afternoon, they hadn’t thought much about it.
“We were mourning the loss of someone we grew up with…” she tells me. “We’re not thinking we’re in harm’s way.”
That ”someone” was 25-year-old Branden “B.L.” Bullard – a major player in the East Side Grape Street Watts (Crip) gang based in Jordan Downs. Twelve hours earlier a shooter(s) – presumably from the rival East Coast Crips – had sprayed a party where people from several neighborhoods had gathered, wounding seven and killing Bullard.
He had been something of a larger-than-life figure for having survived a shot to the face 3 years prior in retaliation for the wounding of a Bounty Hunter (Bloods from Nickerson Gardens). That 2005 event sparked six weeks of tit-for-tat carnage that left nine dead, twenty-six wounded, and the whole of Watts paralyzed as the battle played out in the public space.
Although the incident that finally killed Bullard in the wee hours of Sunday, January 27, 2008, may have been sparked by a fight between women, the damage had been done. As dawn broke, warning shots were already being fired in areas frequented by Grape Street’s rivals.
Perhaps because Grape Street hadn’t landed a kill, the community did not expect a retaliatory attack.
Whatever the reason, when the Impala made a U-turn and came slowly back around, nobody bothered to look up, Sherika says.
Until all hell broke loose. Read more…