Boyfriend arrested in fatal shooting

David Brian Abbott. Photo courtesy HBPD

(Updated 1:15 p.m. Jan. 2, 2012)

Shortly after 5 o’clock on New Year’s Eve morning, residents of the Seahorse apartments in the 700 block of Manhattan Avenue heard a woman in a downstairs unit scream, “Don’t shoot.” The plea was followed by the sound of a pop, and then silence.

One of the neighbors called Hermosa police, who arrived at the apartments at 5:15 a.m., within a minute of the call, and arrested a man they identified as David Brian Abbott, 33, who they found standing in front of the complex.

They entered the apartment where the scream was heard and found Samantha Ann Sproson, 38, dead from a gunshot to the head.

Abbott was scheduled for arraignment in connection with the shooting this week, Hermosa police said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was assisting Hermosa police detectives in the first homicide investigation since 2003 in the 1.3 square-mile town of about 19,500 residents.
A neighbor said Sproson and Abbott were a couple, and lived just steps away from each other in separate apartments at the Seahorse.

“They were toxic when they were together,” the neighbor said, declining to elaborate.

“It’s just eerie,” the neighbor said.

“It’s not supposed to happen here,” another neighbor said.

A memorial shrine of candles and flowers placed at the door Sproson’s apartment includes a sign that reads, “Rest in peace, Sam I am.”

Sproson held an MBA degree, and for more than a year she had been advising small businesses through the Small Business Development Center at El Camino College. She was born on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and had lived in Montana and Oregon.

Samantha Sproson

“She was a very giving soul, she was always wanting to help people,” said Samantha’s mother Natalie Sproson of Rancho Palos Verdes.

 “Last Thanksgiving she cooked for her neighbors because they did not have anywhere they wanted to go, I thought that was extremely nice. And she popped over here to let us know she loved us too,” Natalie Sproson said.

On Tuesday, she was looking at photos of her daughter as a youth, and making arrangements for her daughter’s 13-year-old black Labrador dog to live with his regular dog walker.

“Why would this happen?” she asked in tears. “I never thought I would bury one of my children.”

She said she did not know Abbott well.

“I met him. He was a quiet young man. I had dinner with him and my daughter,” she said. “I’m stunned. I don’t know why this would happen.”

In addition to her mother, Samantha Sproson is survived by her father W.D. Sproson and three brothers, one in Riverside, one in Arizona and one in France who used to live with her in Redondo Beach.

On Aug. 4, 2011 Sproson appeared in the Hermosa Beach City Council chambers to address a committee formed to improve the business corridors of Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard. She displayed a cheerful charisma, warm smile and easy laugh in her presentation on efforts to help local small businesses.

Before coming to Hermosa, Sproson worked with small businesses in Portland, Ore., led her own nonprofit agency, served as general manager for Aequitas Investment Capital developing training programs for the food and beverage industry, served as a manager for McCormick and Schmick’s Restaurant Group, and owned a business called Food Fetish Catering and Café.

Her published MBA thesis for the University of Montana focused on businesses recycling and reuse of materials.

Homicides are rare in Hermosa.

In March 2003, Joel Bues, 25, was shot to death at the major intersection of Pier Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in the early hours of the morning. Before that, Hermosa had gone eight years without a homicide.

Bues was struck in the head with at least two gunshots as he sat behind the wheel of a silver BMW, stopped at a red light on northbound PCH at Pier. Police said Bues might have been mistaken for a gang member.

A 24-year-old Redondo Beach man was riding in the BMW and was unhurt.

In 1995 a homicide was recorded when someone left a newborn baby inside a garbage container outside a business.

In 2001 a slain body was discovered at a residential construction site, but police said the murder occurred in an inland area well away from Hermosa.

Police were urging anyone with information about the case to call HBPD detectives at 310-318-0351 or sheriff’s detectives at 323-526-5541.

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