Rickquese McCoy decided the bonfire could wait.
It was after 10 p.m. on a Saturday last June, and teenagers along the 2600 block of 44th Street in City Heights had begun piling into cars for a bonfire at Mission Beach. McCoy, 18, stepped out of his friend’s Pontiac Grand Am to talk with a neighbor instead. McCoy had lent her his cigarette lighter and wanted it back. He didn’t mind being a little late.
McCoy and the neighbor chatted in a nearby apartment complex’s common area. She teased him about keeping the lighter, which was pink. About 10 feet away, McCoy’s friend Timothy Walker spoke with his uncle, Stephen McClendon, who also lived on the block.
As the friends talked, three men in dark clothing approached the complex. The neighbor whispered to McCoy, asking who they were. McCoy shrugged.