The Board of Supervisors granted a $20,000 reward to the anonymous tipster who helped authorities arrest and convict gang members who opened fire on a crowd watching Fourth of July fireworks in West Athens in 2012, killing Unique Russell and injuring two others.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas initially set the reward at $10,000, but later increased the amount to $20,000. Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives said it was instrumental in obtaining information from the public.
Unique Russell, 14, was watching fireworks with friends and neighbors in front of a home at 1346 West 97th Street when gang member Michael Staton, then 19, started shooting with an accomplice, Jasper Jones.
Unique died of her injuries at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center. Her cousins, 12-year-old Rekell Reeves and 25-year-old Freddy Picket, sustained gunshot wounds to their legs but survived the brazen attack.
During the investigation, a witness contacted law enforcement, leading to the arrest of Staton and, later, Jones. The witness testified against both men during the trial, leading jurors to hand down guilty verdicts. Staton, a.k.a. Crypto, is now serving a sentence of 50 years to life for murder and attempted murder. Jones, convicted of voluntary manslaughter, was sentenced to 24 years.