When Donna Wade was told by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies that they had made an arrest in the shooting death of her 14-year-old daughter Unique Russell, she was brought to tears. But the relief and gratitude she felt was tempered by the pain of knowing her daughter would never be at her side to make her laugh or celebrate Christmas or her birthday or to kiss her goodnight.
“I’m glad they got him,” said Wade on Friday, December 14, outside of the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s station as the announcement of the arrest was made. “But it won’t bring her back.”
The arrest Friday was made by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies in part because of a $10,000 reward posted in July by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Over six months, dozens of tips rolled in, bringing investigators closer to finding the suspects until they were able to arrest 19-year-old Michael Staton of Compton and an alleged gang member. The motion, authored by Chairman of the Board Mark Ridley-Thomas, was “Instrumental in getting people to provide information,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Rosson.
Unique, a bright and bubbly girl who wanted to be a pediatrician, was shot to death in front of a home on the 1300 block of West 97th Street as she watched fireworks with friends, family members, and neighbors at an annual block party July 4. Witnesses, who initially thought the gunfire was the crackling of fireworks, saw two young men standing on the southeast corner of 97th Street and Normandie Avenue and fire several shots into the crowd.
Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who was at the arrest announcement on December 14, said the county will spare no expense to find perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.
“We will not allow these acts of violence to go unpunished,” he said. “It is our responsibility to support law enforcement in their efforts and to embrace families that are victims of crime. Finding the alleged suspect is an example of what happens when hard working deputies, detectives and a community come together.”