A young standout in the talent-heavy skate scene of Los Angeles County was murdered at point-blank range on Sunday afternoon on a busy street in Compton, Calif.
Charley Ford, 24, was sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked on the 2100 block of Wilmington Avenue when an unidentified man approached the car around 4:30 p.m. brandishing a firearm. Ford was "shot several times by gunfire," according to the press release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter.
A man sitting in the driver's seat and his 10-month-old baby in back escaped unharmed.
"I was devastated [when I heard the news]," Baker pro Terry Kennedy, 27, told ESPN.com. "I had just hung with him three days before that, skating Cherry [Park skatepark in Long Beach]. I'd been just throwing boards at him, tying to help him out because I knew how much talent he had."
Ford, a stylish street skater who consistently placed well at skate-shop contests around Los Angeles and Long Beach, was being flowed boards and apparel from nearby shops and companies, including Sole Technology, Kennedy said.
Friends say Ford's skating helped him grow away from his hardscrabble upbringing in neighborhoods in and around Compton, where growing up surrounded by gangs is not uncommon.
"Being from that part of town, it's all around you," Blind pro Kevin Romar told ESPN.com. "But he was trying to stay positive and get away from that through his skating."
A detective at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau told ESPN.com that law enforcement is "still trying to determine" if the homicide was gang-related, adding that the reputation of that part of town doesn't necessarily lead to that conclusion. "That street in particular is a busy main street. It's a fairly normal residential area for that part of [Compton]," the detective said.
The suspect was seen running away from the scene of the shooting on Wilmington Avenue, authorities said.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information should call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-892-5500.