The community of Western Heights which sits between Arlington and Western, south of Washington can claim bragging rights to one of West Adams top tourist attractions. Located on Gramercy just north of the 10 freeway overpass, is the site of the April 1, 1984 shooting of Marvin Gaye by his father Marvin Gaye Sr.
Just off his “Sexual Healing” tour, Gaye Jr. had been staying at this, his parents’ home in order to take care of his mother following a surgery. His mother, a former custodian, later provided a blow-by-blow account of the murder. She described a two-day argument exploding after Gaye Sr. couldn’t locate an insurance document and began verbally abusing Alberta. Gaye Jr. had always had a tumultuous relationship with his father, an alcoholic who was alleged to have abused his son as a youngster. The family relations worsened as Jr. became entangled in drug and IRS problems and became paranoid. Responding to Sr.’s verbal attacks on his mother over the missing insurance policy , Gaye Jr. followed Sr. into his bedroom where he pushed, kicked and cursed his father. Alberta said she remembered her husband screaming “he’s kicking me, I don’t have to take this!” and, after Alberta separated the two, Jr. Photo of police statement the day after.
responding “I’m packing my stuff and getting out of this house, Father hates me and I’m never coming back.” Then Sr. emerged with a 38mm gun in another bedroom where the mother and son had retreated.
“I was standing about eight feet away from Marvin, when my husband came to the door of the bedroom with his pistol. My husband didn’t say anything, he just pointed the gun at Marvin. I screamed but it was very quick. He, my husband, shot – and Marvin screamed. I tried to run. Marvin slid down to the floor after the first shot.”
Gaye’s brother Frankie and sister-in-law heard shots and came running from their residence next door.
Jr., who was described as wearing a maroon bathrobe, suffered several perforated organs, and was pronounced dead at age 44 upon arrival at the California Hospital Medical Center downtown. He had given the gun to his father the year before as a Christmas gift. The father got off on voluntary manslaughter plea bargain with a five year probation because he claimed a brain tumor. He continued to live at the Gramercy address until dying in 1998 of pneumonia in a Culver City rest home. Alberta divorced Sr. after the shooting, passing away three years later at age 84 from bone cancer. The house is currently owned by Disney animator Larry Leiker and Tom Rozell. The house today.