September 18, 1995 in Nation/World

Urban Nightmare: Gang Attacks Carload Of Children Girl, 3, Killed After Car Takes Wrong Turn In Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times

In a classic urban nightmare, about a dozen gang members surrounded “a car full of children” that took a wrong turn onto a graffiti-marred dead-end street in the dark early Sunday, blocked the vehicle as the driver tried frantically to escape, then opened fire on the passengers.

A 3-year-old girl was killed, Los Angeles police said. Her 2-year-old brother sitting in his infant carseat and the car’s driver were both wounded in the ambush in the gangridden Cypress Park neighborhood they accidentally drove into as they returned from a barbecue.

Stephanie Kuhen was hit in the head and mortally wounded in the barrage from handguns. Her brother Joseph, 2, was struck in the foot. The driver, Timothy Stone, 25, was shot in the back. Stephanie’s mother, Robynn, 26, and her brother Christopher, 5, and uncle, David Dalton, 22, were unhurt.

No arrests have been made in what police are calling a completely unprovoked ambush shooting by Latino gang members in an area between railroad tracks and the hills of Mount Washington in northeast Los Angeles.

The area is plagued by battles among rival Latino gangs, police said, which is what made the shooting all the more perplexing.

“Clearly they could look into the car and see male and female Caucasians and not Hispanics,” said Los Angeles police Detective Robert Lopez. “You can see a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old and you can pretty much figure they’re not going to threaten your life … I can’t see a 3-year-old flipping gang signs.”

No one in the car had any gang affiliation, police emphasized.

“I hope you’ll tell them what cowards those people were,” Fran Fanning, the children’s aunt, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.

The deadly ambush started at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday when Stone, a family friend, was driving Robynn Kuhen and her children home from a barbecue, police and family members explained.

“They were driving home and taking a shortcut,” said Mike Fanning, the children’s cousin. Stone “wasn’t familiar with the area.”

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