Alleged gang gunfight forces closure of Compton youth academy


COMPTON, California (KABC) — Surveillance cameras captured a terrifying shooting outside a youth academy and daycare center in Compton, forcing children to run for cover and forcing children’s programs to be halted.

The incident happened last month outside the LA City Wildcats youth academy on Rosecrans Avenue. The footage shows the gunmen involved, believed to be members of rival gangs.

“It happened here, and not a single bullet hit a kid,” said LA City Wildcats founder Derrick Cooper. If that isn’t an act of God, I don’t know what is. Not a single bullet hit a child.’

Fortunately, there were no casualties, but the academy where those children played and learned has since been closed. Cooper said he is not willing to put the kids in danger again.

“These kids are more than just kids in the Wildcat family, they’re going to be my extended family,” Cooper said. “So if I lose a child, I lose a family member.”

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It has happened nine times over the years. Most recently in July 2020 when rising basketball star Semaj Miller was shot and killed.

“I can’t lose any more kids,” Cooper said. “To bury a kid you pick up and watch them play basketball, or watch them play basketball, that’s hard and I don’t want to go through with that.”

The academy’s programs, including sports, cheerleading, dance, and even the after-school activities and child care, all of which Cooper has dreamed up and run for more than two decades, have stalled.

The sudden closure hurts Cooper, who paid the fees for the programs and even personally drove the students all over L.A.

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“The children who were kept off the streets and away from violence by this program have now lost their escape because violence has found them,” he said.

Cooper believes the community of Compton should invest more in its youth.

“Our parks are closed, we don’t have parks and recreation, we don’t have basketball leagues or our football leagues,” he said. “I have yet to meet our mayor. I would really like to meet her because I have some really good ideas. I think she would help her bring some life back to our parks and recreations and our youth.”

Meanwhile, Cooper looks for a new, safer location and help so he can continue helping the kids, and he’s running out of time.

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“I actually lost income for almost 7 weeks,” he said. “So that hasn’t been replenished, that hasn’t been supported, and that can drive us deeper and deeper into debt. Because when we open up again, we’re going to have to move, we’re going to have to stock up, do payroll, it’s just a monster every time I think of it, but we’ll find a way to get through this.’

If you are interested in helping the LA City Wildcats program, you can donate to the official GoFundMe.

Meanwhile, the suspects in the shooting remain on the run.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the LA County Sheriff’s Department Compton station at 310-605-6500.

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