"He looked very innocent," Laura Moore says
Laura Moore thought the small, silver plated handgun pointed at her was a pellet gun, but when the sting of a bullet hit the 21-year-old waitress in the left side of her chest, she realized it was all too real.
“Why did you shoot me?” she remembers asking the stranger who had pulled the gun from under the driver’s seat that fateful night of May 29, 1985. “I need to go to the hospital,” she told him.
The man just laughed and fired twice more, hitting her again in the left chest and then in the arm. Moore opened the passenger door and despite his attempt to pull her back inside, she was able to break free, roll out of the dark blue pickup truck and crawl from the alleyway to the front lawn of a nearby house.
Paramedics, alerted by the homeowner, found her at 6:45 p.m. As they were frantically trying to save her, she watched the stranger slowly drive by.
“I was trying to tell them that’s him,” Moore recently recalls to PEOPLE. “I was trying to tell them but I couldn’t say it clearly. I was trying to point and say, ‘That’s him.'”
Fifteen minutes before she was shot, Moore was standing at a bus stop in South Los Angeles. A stranger in a pickup pulled up and politely offered her a ride. Moore declined the offer, but soon caved in to what he portrayed as concern and persistence.
“He looked very innocent,” she says. “He came across as very concerned. He just told me he was worried about my well-being because there was a lot of crazy young men who victimized young women like me.”
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After the attack, Moore described the shooter as a 5-foot-8 inch tall black man, weighing around 140 lbs and between the ages of 25 to 35. He was wearing a light blue work shirt and blue work pants. His ashtray, she told them, was filled with mechanic’s tools.
“As soon as I heard about the blue uniform I knew it was Lonnie Franklin,” says LAPD homicide detective Daryn Dupree about the Los Angeles serial killer sentenced to death last week for the murder of 10 women in South Los Angeles between 1984 and 2007. “The M.O. is the same.”
Moore realized she was a victim of one of California’s most prolific serial killers when she saw Franklin’s mug shot on television after his July 2010 arrest. Until then, Moore assumed her attack had been a case of mistaken identity. “I thought a female had robbed him or something and he got me by mistake,” she says.
One of Two Survivors
Moore, 52, is one of just two women known to have survived an attack by Franklin, the former LAPD mechanic and sanitation worker. The other, Enietra Washington, survived a similar attack.
Washington was a 30-year-old mother-of-two when she accepted a ride from Franklin in November of 1988. During Franklin’s trial, Washington testified that Franklin shot her in the chest, sexually assaulted her, and took a Polaroid picture of her before pulling her out of his car and leaving her to die.
“These women are lucky to be alive,” Dupree says. “Both women were shot in the left side of the chest with a small caliber handgun as they were sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle and then he pushed them out in alleyways. He knew the areas and knew where to dump the bodies. He operated in familiar turf.”
Most of Franklin’s victims were shot with a .25-caliber pistol. Others were strangled. The bodies were discovered in dumpsters and alleyways along Western Avenue in South Los Angeles, an area at the time known for its cheap motels, liquor stores, gambling parlors, auto salvage yards and storefront churches.
During Franklin’s sentencing, a visibly shaken Moore, wearing a dress with the word love written all over it, was one of 17 victim’s family members and victims who addressed Franklin.
“Why, why, why?” she asked. “Really, why? I just want to know why?”
Franklin didn’t respond. He just stared ahead.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said the why doesn’t matter. “There can never be a justification for what you have done,” she told Franklin before she handed down a sentence of death.