Los Angeles County Homicide Bureau detectives made a public approach Wednesday morning, April 6, 2016, in an appeal for assistance to locate a shooter who took the life of a budding basketball star.
Detectives presented a $10,000 reward offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in exchange for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible, with the hope of encouraging witnesses to step forward and share any tips they may have.
It was minutes before midnight on Monday, September 21, 2015, when 25-year-old Wendell Lee, Jr. stood with a friend in front of a residence in the 12200 block of Elva Avenue, in the Willowbrook community of unincorporated Los Angeles County. He was an avid and talented basketball player who played on a collegiate level at Colorado State Pueblo, and just graduated that year. Wendell was laser-focused on the possibility of a professional basketball career in the very near future, back in Los Angeles to attend a try-out for the Lakers “D” team.
The dreams the Lee family held for their son dissipated that night when a car pulled up, a man got out from the driver’s-side rear passenger door, and shot Wendell multiple times with an assault-style rifle. The suspect got back into the car, and fled southbound Elva Avenue and out of view.
Century Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to a “gun-shot victim” at the location and found Wendell suffering from gunshot wounds to his upper torso. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Wendell grew up in the Gardena area and attended Washington High School. He continued his studies at El Camino College before transferring to Colorado State Pueblo.
Wendell is survived by his parents, two brothers and three sisters.
Wendell’s parents and siblings attended the press conference. His mother, Merry Matthews, looked directly into the camera and addressed the shooter suspect directly.
“I want to talk to the killer for a few minutes,” she said. “I’m going to ask you to turn yourself in.” “No alcohol, no drugs can make this go away. It’s not going away.”
The shooter suspect is described a male, Black, 20 - 28 years old, measuring between 5’9” and 5’10” in height.
There were at least two other occupants inside the vehicle, without further known descriptions.
The suspect vehicle is described as a 2003 - 2007 Saturn Vue, “Redline” edition, silver in color.
Anyone with information about the suspects, the vehicle or this incident is highly encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637).