Less than 24 hours after celebrating his 50th birthday, Ronald Broadnax would be dead.
Emergency 911 calls flooded dispatchers.
“There’s been a ride-by shootin’,” said one caller. “The guy’s laying down in the front right now.”
Another was a female with a soft voice, “There was gun shots,” she whispered. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9!”
It was the middle of the afternoon on February 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day – a day the rest of the country was focused on a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida – and the day Ronald Broadnax was left to die on the pavement outside his apartment complex on Santo Tomas Drive in the Lower Baldwin Village area of Baldwin Hills.
LAPD South Bureau Homicide Detective Armando Mendoza says the spray of bullets broke windows, punctured trees and pierced walls.
“He was standing here speaking with a neighbor,” Mendoza says while standing in the same spot outside the main entrance to the apartment complex. “When he was approached by an unknown suspect and shot multiple times.”
It’s important to note that this apartment complex faces a rather large park – where at this time of the day, just before 1 p.m. – the park had patrons of all ages – potential witnesses that have yet to come forward.
“It’s taken a big toll on me, my whole family,” says Stefhon Martin. “It shattered me.”
Martin says Broadnax was the strong male figure in his life, something he says so few young Black men can say.
Broadnax was not his father by blood, but a father-figure none-the-less.
“He was the one really showing me the right way, not to get involved in the streets and everything,” he says. “Not to do the wrong thing, not to follow down the wrong path, he was always telling me I was bright, to stay in school.”
Broadnax was a father, a new grandfather and an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back, the last dollar in his pocket,” says Stephanie Oliver, Martin’s mother. “For this to have taken place for such a good person, there’s no answers. Why did this happen?”
That’s the question LAPD homicide investigators are trying to figure out.
A $50,000 reward is on the line for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever it was that was brazen enough to kill a man in broad daylight – the day after his birthday – on a day when the country celebrates love – and across from a busy park.
Detectives believe the silence in the neighborhood could mean the killer lives there, too.
“Somebody saw something, somebody knows something,” Oliver says, begging for someone to come forward. “It’s not gonna bring Ron back, but it will relieve a lot of the pain that we’re suffering.”
“At some point somebody has to be the bigger person and stand up,” Martin says, holding back tears. “And know that what happened was wrong and the person that was taken out was a good person.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD South Bureau Homicide detectives at 323-786-5100. Anonymous Tips can be submitted by calling 1-800-222-8477.