UPDATED: Whomever says the Westside sees no action hasn't been paying attention this week. On Tuesday night a 20-year-old man was fatally shot in Santa Monica and early Thursday morning Los Angeles police opened fire on a robbery suspect, wounding the boy in the Sawtelle neighborhood of West Los Angeles.
Tuesday's violence broke out about 8:52 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park at 2200 Virginia Avenue in the Pico Neighborhood of Santa Monica where authorities recently cracked down on two local gangs. Santa Monica police state that a suspect walked up to four males at the park and opened fire. Three fled unharmed but the forth was struck and killed.
A sergeant who happened to be in the area heard the shots and helped pursue the suspects, four of which were nabbed after a perimeter was set up. We were unable to reach the coroner's office in order to learn the victim's identity.
[UPDATED at 5:25 P.M]: Also Tuesday, 19-year-old William Charles McKillian Jr. was fatally shot in the 600 block of Westminster Avenue in Venice, according to the Times. A source tells Metblogs Los Angeles that the victim in the Venice shooting and the suspects in the Santa Monica shooting are members of the Venice Shoreline Crips gang, although cops have not confirmed that claim. Also spotted at Metblogs: A link to an eyewitness account of the Santa Monica violence.
In West Los Angeles, sometime after midnight Thursday, Los Angeles Police Department officers in an unmarked car were patrolling an area that has been hit by a string of robberies. The cops were laying low and hoping to come upon suspects.
"They were positioned to target the [robbery] trend in that area," Lt. John Romero tells LA Weekly, "and I don't think they knew who they were going to find. But based on statistics they knew they had a better chance in that area."
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They did indeed. Spotting a white, 2008 Toyota Sienna van, the cops tailed the vehicle as it made what police describe as suspicious moves -- stopping in front of closed businesses, traveling through empty parking lots, cruising strangely in an otherwise placid community.
The officers lost track of the van but about 12:50 a.m. spotted the vehicle stopped at a Chevron gas station at West Olympic Boulevard and South Bundy Drive. Police say two suspects were walking toward the van, one with a gun, the other holding money. The Chevron, they later determined, had been robbed, according to Romero.
The cops ordered the suspects to stop, but they fled: When one of them pointed a gun, at least one officer opened fire, wounding him, Romero said. Another suspect was found two-and-one-half hours later. Their names were not being released because they are juveniles. The wounded suspect was recovering in a hospital.
Police are investigating whether the alleged crew is responsible for a string of similar robberies in the area.