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Watts Gang Rivalry Heats Up: Shooting Suspect Kicks Over Murder Victim's Memorial, Reports 'Twitter Cop'

The photo that started the conversation.
The photo that started the conversation.
@LAMurderCop via Twitter

If LAPD Detective Sal LaBarbera wanted to draw more attention to the countless gang homicides he investigates down in South L.A. -- as he claimed he did, in defense of the "Twitter Cop" controversy -- he has succeeded.

LaBarbera, who uses the handle @LAMurderCop, Tweeted a photo of 32-year-old murder victim Oscar Arevalo covered in a blanket on the sidewalk.

"Guess where I'm at??? It never ends," he wrote. Though people as far as the East Coast found this to be "callous" and insensitive...

... LaBarbera stands by his decision to personally publicize the daily tragedies he sees on the job, since the media focuses on rich white kids. So, in honor of that sentiment, here are the latest updates on a growing gang feud in the heart of Watts:

"Another Shooting last nite 106/Wilmington," he Tweeted this morning. "The previous evening a shotgun wielding suspect kicked over the entire memorial site."

A memorial had apparently been set up a block over at 105th and Wilmington for Arevalo. On the morning of October 11, he was reportedly shot dead at that intersection while standing next to a tamale vendor. LAPD Detective Potter tells us today that this "is a highly concentrated gang area, and the motive, based on the circumstance, is gang-related." She says Arevalo was a documented gang member.

LaBarbera also shared the following video with his many followers (remarkably up from about 1,700 to about 4,700 since we wrote about his unorthodox Twitter activity).

Pat Gannon, Deputy Chief of the LAPD's South Bureau, tells the videographer of Arevalo's murder:

"This is an ongoing problem in this community. We've had a number of shootings in the last several weeks in this area, back and forth between local gangs, and we're trying to get our arms around it."

Gannon adds that the suspect is believed to be a black male, and that the shooting appears to have been gang-related -- "consistent with other shootings that we've had in this area the last several weeks."

Local hostility for police becomes obvious around 1:47. "I'd fuck you up if you didn't have no guns, punk motherfucker," says one man to the LAPD officers trying to herd onlookers away from the crime scene.

We've contacted LAPD Detective Vershuan for more information regarding Arevalo's murder.

What we do know is that Arevalo was gunned down in Grape Street Crips territory. According to L.A. gang expert Alex Alonso, the all-black Grape Street gang pretty much runs the projects down there:

Their area goes from 97th Street (north) to 107th Street (south) between Wilmington (west) and Alameda (east). They are the largest Crip neighborhood in Watts at 0.394 square miles and the second largest overall black gang in the area, second to the Bounty Hunters.

The Bounty Hunter Bloods were once their biggest rival, but Alonso writes that "since the Watts truce of 1992 their rivalry has not been as intense as it was during the 1980s and early 1990s but it does flare up periodically."

Latino gangs are much less prevalent in that area, but the biggest one we can think of nearby is Florencia 13. Updates to come as we investigate further.

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@simone_electra

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swilson@laweekly.com

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