Hit-and-run death in Valley turns into a double tragedy.
MISSION HILLS - Alexander J. Brooks wanted to be an organ donor.
A year ago, the then-18-year-old Mission Hills resident told his fraternal twin brother: If I'm gone and I can't use my organs, I'd rather somebody be able to use them.
That was the kind of young man that Brooks was developing into, his family said, before he was killed by a hit-and-run driver Monday in Mission Hills.
Brooks, 19, was pronounced dead at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center after he was struck while crossing the street around the corner from his own home.
And in the end, his wish to become an organ donor could not be fulfilled.
Forty minutes after Brooks died at the hospital, his family gave permission for his organs to be harvested. Several hours later, they learned that police were not allowing the operation, citing an ongoing investigation.
The opportunity for the James Monroe High School grad to be a donor had passed.
It was disappointing, his family members said.
"But it certainly speaks to the type of person he is - was - and his gentleness," said Olivia Walker, Brooks' grandmother. "He was an amazing young man."
Brooks, who was studying business at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar, was crossing the street at an unmarked crosswalk at Langdon Avenue and Lassen Street at about 10 p.m. He was heading home after visiting a friend with whom he recorded hip-hop music.
Brooks was almost there - the condo that he shared with his mother and two brothers was just around the corner.
Then, a driver headed west on Lassen struck Brooks so hard that the pedestrian was propelled 50 feet into oncoming traffic, where he was struck again by another vehicle. The first driver took off. The second driver stopped and called police.
Neighbors, who reported hearing a loud crash, could only describe the vehicle as a black sedan, with possibly some front-end damage from the impact.
His death was at least the third hit-and-run fatality reported this year in the San Fernando Valley, according to Officer Karen Rayner of the Los Angeles Police Department. As of last week, there had been 1,968 hit-and-runs in the Valley since January, down 15 percent from the same period last year.
Brooks, who family members called "Allie," and "momma's boy," was an aspiring hip-hop artist who had spent the last summer living in a recording studio producing tracks in Northern California. He was self-taught in piano, drums and guitar and learned through trial-and-error how to connect mixers and synthesizers to the computer.
He also converted a stairwell leading from his room to the rooftop into a recording studio measuring just 2-feet by 3-feet wide by plastering the walls with cardboard cupholders from McDonald's, egg cartons and mattress pads. He'd charge $25 for each track he produced.
"He'd say, 'I'll make it work to my advantage'," said his aunt, Shawn Johnson, adding that Brooks was even able to stylize the thick glasses he had to wear because of vision problems. "That was typical Allie."
Friends often crowded eight to 10 deep as he laid out tracks in his room, surrounded by walls neatly covered with Brooks' own graffiti-style drawings, magazine covers of hip-hop and rap artists, and a math achievement award from James Monroe high.
"Allie was such his own man that people gravitated towards him," Johnson said.
Walker agreed. "He trusted everybody. He was just that open, just that big-hearted."
Brooks had just completed his freshman year at L.A. Mission College and was about to start at the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music in Hollywood in the fall.
Although he hadn't yet decided on a stage name - he sometimes used Yung Apaco, Soul Child, Allie Boy, AB2 - he had grabbed the attention of some music producers, such as those for rapper E-40. By last year, he had already produced and recorded his first song, "Never Fall," for which he had also written the lyrics.
Following a piano intro, Brooks sings about being raised single-handedly by his mother, a talent agent, and his father, who he had just begun reconnecting with in the last year.
"Ya'll ever wonder? If you were to have one parent in your life, possibly no parents in your life?" Brooks lamented. "Sometimes that happens. That one person you love may be gone."
For Aaron Brooks, Alexander's younger twin by 30 minutes, the feeling was all too fresh. He changed the screensaver on his phone to his twin's picture, sometimes staring at the photo, shaking his head and then breaking down.
"I hurt so bad in my heart," Aaron Brooks, who is deaf, wrote in texts and online. "I miss my brother. I lost my best friend."
The family plans to start a musician's scholarship in Brooks' name.
"Helping someone, that was his heart," Walker said. "That's what Allie would have wanted."
Anyone with more information is asked to call Valley Traffic Division detectives at 818-644-8020.
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or text 274637. Tips leading to an arrest can earn up to $1,000.