An 18-year-old gang member who opened fire on a crowd of people after a homecoming football game in Long Beach, killing a 16-year-old honor student, was sentenced today to 155 years and six months to life in state prison.
Tom Love Vinson, of Bellflower, was convicted in September of first-degree murder for the killing of Melody Ross at Wilson High School in October 2009.
Vinson also wounded two young men who were his intended targets.
Deputy District Attorney Dean Bengston said the sentence was appropriate for someone who “shoots into a crowd of 100 people, not really caring who they hit.”
Vinson was 16 at the time of the shooting but was tried as an adult.
Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim sentenced Vinson to 50 years to life on the first-degree murder charge; two terms of 40 years to life for the attempted murders of an 18-year-old man and a 20-year-old man; and 25 years and six months for attempted voluntary manslaughter involving a girl who was
sitting next to Ross on the curb just after the football game finished. She was not wounded.
Vinson apologized to Ross’ family before the judge pronounced sentence.
“I wish he’d had that kind of sentiment two years ago,” Bengston said.
Ross, a Wilson High junior who was in Advanced Placement classes and on the track team, was among a crowd of spectators who were leaving the homecoming game on Oct. 30, 2009, when Vinson opened fire with a .25-caliber handgun just outside the west entrance of the Wilson campus.
She was shot once in the torso and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Investigators concluded that she was an innocent bystander to a gang shooting.
The two young men who were shot survived their wounds. Vinson, a former Wilson student, testified during his trial that they were members of a rival gang and that one of them pulled a gun before he started shooting.
“All I seen was a black gun,” he said.
Co-defendant Daivion Davis, 18, was sentenced in September to eight years and four months in a juvenile facility after pleading no contest to manslaughter and attempted murder.