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Violence: Thrown bottle escalates into gunfire, a witness says. Wounds described as serious.

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY, TIMES STAFF WRITER


A gunman opened fire in the grandstands of the Irwindale Speedway Thursday night, wounding three people, authorities said.

The shooting at the racetrack, 13300 Live Oak Ave., occurred shortly after 10 p.m., said Los Angeles County fire dispatch supervisor Ray Dong.


Three people, two males and a female, were taken to hospitals, the Fire Department dispatcher said. One was reported in full cardiac arrest, a second was in critical condition and the third was in serious condition. One of the victims reportedly had been shot in the back.

Four to five people were detained for questioning, police said.

Witness Jake Garcia, 24, said the disturbance began when someone in the bleachers threw a bottle that hit someone below. Two groups confronted each other, and one man pulled out a gun and began shooting, he said.

Because a race was in progress on the track, "everybody thought it was a backfire," Garcia said. When they realized what had happened, the several hundred people in the stands fled for their cars, he said.

Police and the racetrack's security officers were still questioning witnesses at midnight and had ordered everyone else to leave the speedway.

Since last year, Irwindale Speedway has offered its eighth-mile course to would-be street rodders every Thursday night, allowing them to race their own cars against each other.

The races, sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Assn., also are run at tracks in Fontana and Palmdale. They're intended to get hot rodders off the streets and into a controlled environment without endangering others on the street.





Geez folks, think back to the 'rice in the ditch' episode. This could have flared into a very uncontrollable situation. I've been to street races in Gardena and one time someone pulled a gun. I've also heard about 3/4 years ago someone was shot there...
 
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