The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday reinstated or renewed rewards for information leading to the convictions of gunmen in unrelated shootings that killed a 20-year-old man headed home from a church dance in Hawthorne, a 53-year-old woman sitting on her family’s front porch in Carson and a Canyon Oaks High School senior.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended re-establishing a $10,000 reward that expired last year in the killing of 20-year-old William Fifita in Hawthorne.
Fifita — who was shot about 2:15 a.m. March 20, 2016 — had left a church dance and was driving his cousin and two college friends when the driver of a white Kia Soul pulled alongside them near the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and West Rosecrans Avenue. Someone inside the Kia opened fire and Fifita died at the scene. Two men in the car with him were also struck by bullets, but survived.
Fifita was a student and football player at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and was very involved in his church, according to Ridley-Thomas. His father is a sheriff’s deputy in San Bernardino County.
Ridley-Thomas also asked his colleagues to renew a $10,000 reward for information in the killing of Tauvaaga “Judy” Lauvai, who was visiting from Arizona to celebrate Father’s Day with her family when she was shot in June 2018. Set to expire Oct. 16, the reward will now be on offer for at least another 90 days.
An additional $25,000 is being offered by the city of Carson, bringing the total to $35,000.
Lauvai was shot just before 9 p.m. June 16, 2018, when a light-colored, four-door sedan stopped in front of her relatives’ home in the 22700 block of Island Avenue and someone inside the car opened fire. She died at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. Another family member’s leg was grazed by a bullet.
Investigators have found no evidence the family was specifically targeted and believe the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity.
Lauvai worked at Arizona State University as an administrative assistant. The Carson High School graduate lived in the city for more than 50 years before moving out of state.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended reinstating a $20,000 reward for information in the killing of 18-year-old Oscar Garcia, who was hanging out with two friends inside a garage in the 100 block of West Cypress Avenue in Monrovia about 11:30 p.m. April 22, 2017. Authorities said a man walked up and pointed a gun at the group, and after a short verbal exchange, the gunman fired multiple shots and ran toward an alley behind the home.
Garcia, the second youngest of six children, died at the scene.
A 17-year-old boy, whose name was not released, survived what authorities called life-threatening gunshot wounds, and a teenage girl escaped injury.
Detectives believe the gunman may live in the area where the shooting occurred or frequently visit there. At a news conference the month after the shooting, they said the gunman appeared to have targeted the location, but may not have been looking for Garcia and his friends.
Garcia’s mother, Guadalupe Castaneda, appeared alongside detectives and said her son “would always go the extra mile to care for others” and “didn’t deserve to end this way.”
Garcia had been set to graduate that June and planned to study photography at a local community college.
The suspect was described as a light-skinned Hispanic man between 20 and 25 years old. Witnesses said he was about 6 feet tall, with a medium build, brown eyes, short black hair and a goatee. He was wearing a black baseball cap with some kind of logo.
Anyone with information on any of these crimes was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers, 800-222-TIPS (8477).
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