BORDERLINE NEIGHBORHOOD — Santa Monica police are looking for a suspect who allegedly shot and injured a 15-year-old boy Tuesday evening at Seventh and Ozone streets near the border with Venice.

The victim, whose name was not released, was with two friends about 6:30 p.m. when a white American sedan pulled over to the curb near the boys, police said. After words were exchanged between the two parties, officers said the victim and his friends threw small pumpkins at the car.

The driver responded by firing at the group, striking the victim in the leg, according to police. The boy was taken to an unspecified local hospital. Police said his wound was “non-life threatening.” The victim was described as a Latino male.

No arrests have been made and police have no suspects in the attack.

Sgt. Jay Trisler described the two witnesses as “uncooperative.” No description of the shooter was released and Trisler said police did not know how many occupants were in the vehicle.

“We don’t know if it’s gang related because we don’t have any information as far as the suspects,” Trisler said.

For the past year, the victim had been attending the Pico Youth & Family Center, a nonprofit organization that offers counseling for at-risk youths run by school board member Oscar de la Torre.

de la Torre also withheld the victim’s name but said he’s spoken with the boy on a number of occasions about avoiding violence and focusing on school. He confirmed the boy is a ninth grader in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“I think he’s a young man who needs guidance and is trying to fit in,” de la Torre said. “He’s trying to find his identity.”

He said he planned to visit the victim in the hospital.

“Anytime a young person is shot there’s a lot of fear that the violence will escalate to homicide,” he said. “These incidents can either derail somebody into more violence and depression and misery, or [they] can serve as a wake-up call to change a young person’s life direction.”

Any one with information is urged to call the SMPD (310) 458-8495. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME

(1-800-78-27463).

nickt@www.smdp.com

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