Update: Destiny Young (see below) was charged today with two counts of murder (one of which was allegedly related to Meir's demise) and five counts of second-degree robbery, the D.A.'s office announced. Jabaar Vincent Thomas and Richard Edward Anderson were hit with several counts of second-degree robbery. All were expected in court this afternoon for arraignment. The LAPD is pressing for murder charges against the latter two in connection with the Meir case.
EXCLUSIVE: Jabaar Vincent Thomas, one of the alleged MTV murderers, was on parole for felony possession of a firearm, according to a document we obtained from the California Department of Corrections. Richard Edward Anderson, a third robbery suspect arrested in connection with this case, was also on parole -- under heavy supervision (not heavy enough, obviously) for dealing drugs. They were from South Central and Inglewood, respectively.
BREAKING: It's official.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the "two arrested in connection with L.A. robberies are responsible for Mid-Wilshire slaying of MTV music coordinator, police say." Their identities are Jabaar Vincent Thomas, 26 (presumably the man described in our headline) and Destiny Young, 29.
Updated after the jump with a map of the robberies -- pretty much forming a perfect ring around the corner on which Ben Meir was murdered.
Update, May 11, 3:45 p.m.: LAPD Captain Matt Blake announces that the robberies have NOT yet been linked to the murder. (But the two suspects, currently under interrogation, haven't been ruled out, either.)
Update, May 11, 1:15 p.m.: The two armed-robbery suspects have been detained, and their possible getaway car, a blue sedan, impounded. An urgent LAPD press conference at 3 p.m. makes us think they're suspected of something much more serious than the robberies.
Originally posted May 11 at 8:50 a.m.
Could a black man in his mid-30s -- last seen wearing wire-rimmed glasses and gold and silver jewelry -- be responsible for the freak shooting of 30-year-old MTV staffer Gabe Ben Meir?
The WeHo Daily planted the seed last night with information presumably picked up from one of the many police scanners that editor Darin Weeks has set up in his West Hollywood headquarters.
"The Los Angeles Police Department is seeking a suspect believed to be tied to at least four robberies and two murders in LAPD's Olympic and Wilshire divisions," Weeks wrote last night at 11:07 p.m. The Los Angeles Times picked it up this morning -- without crediting the smaller news outlet, of course -- and cited anonymous sources to confirm:
LAPD sources said the robber had struck at least eight times in the last two weeks, using a shotgun during street and business robberies in the Mid-City, Southwest L.A. and Wilshire areas. The robber also is responsible for a slaying a week ago, police believe.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stressed that detectives had not made a positive link but considered it a solid lead. A division of the LAPD was on tactical alert Tuesday night looking for the robbery suspect.
The suspect is using a single-barrel shotgun, just like the one detectives think was used on Ben Meir. The WeHo Daily describes him as "a black male, about 35 year old, 5'10″ in height and 180 pounds. He was said to be wearing wire rimmed glasses along with other silver and gold jewelry."
From yesterday's breaking story, "Top MTV Production/Music Coordinator Shot in Head on Sunday Morning in Quiet L.A. Neighborhood":
A rising creative force at MTV Los Angeles -- behind the music for "Parental Control" and "Dudesons in America," and post-production for "Punk'd" -- was murdered with a bullet to the
face head at about 1 a.m. yesterday morning. (Update: The victim was reportedly shot execution-style in the back of the head while walking from his car to his home just after midnight.)
The Los Angeles Times reports that the body of 30-year-old Gabriel Ben Meir was discovered at 6:30 a.m. by a Picfair Village resident walking his dog on Packard Street between Stanley and Spaulding Avenues along Miracle Mile.
And strangely, despite the giant pool of blood Ben Meir was lying in, "authorities believe other passersby may have seen the body but failed to report it."
Ben Meir's MTV production credits also include "From G's to Gents" and "World of Jenks." (Cruise his full resume -- impressively thick for such a young guy -- at the New York Times.)
KTLA reports that the young business professional had just moved to the upscale neighborhood -- a tight-knit, even cliquey, community. Last night's broadcast:
The Hollywood Reporter has some more background on Ben Meir's passionate career climb.
He started in the industry as an intern at Geffen Records. His sister, Alexis Ben-Meir, is a well-known figure in the music business who has worked at MCA Records, Suretone Records and is currently at Red Light Management. Their father, Nick Ben-Meir, is a longtime business manager representing musicians.
"He was so damn sweet," says a former coworker. "He just loved music. I remember him at Coachella wanting to see every band. He was a really hard worker and super passionate about music."
Upon learning of Ben Meir's murder, MTV execs released a statement saying they were "shocked and saddened" by the "tragic death" of their employee, "who was a valued member of the MTV family and a beloved and dedicated colleague and friend."
One of Ben Meir's neighbors tells the Times that he "seemed like a very sweet guy," and that "this is so out of the norm for this neighborhood." Another echoes the sentiment: "Forty-seven years I live here, never before was there something like that."
Remembering Ben Meir, Weekly commenter Lyndz23 writes:
"Gabe was an amazing friend... we are in such shock and grief over this senseless tragedy. Our thoughts, love and prayers are with him and his family."
Update: City News Service reports that there are two suspects wanted for armed robbery in the Olympic patrol area, both black men in their 20s or 30s "with an average build and dark clothing":
Victims of all three robberies had the same description of the suspects, [LAPD Detective John] Skaggs said. ...
Victims said one of the suspects was armed with a rifle or shotgun. The suspects were driving a silver or blue American model sedan.
In one of the incidents the suspect was described as having a duffel bag with a rifle or shotgun inside.
Keep in mind that this is all very speculative at this point; the robbery suspect(s) may or may not be connected to the Ben Meir case.
Update: The two men have been arrested for nine armed shotgun robberies in the Olympic/Wilshire area. Here's an LAPD map that tracks their activity, from April 29 to March 10:
Here's the same area, with "A" marking the spot where the MTV employee was gunned down:
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We're no detectives, but this seems like a strong enough lead to call the two men suspects, at least, in the midnight slaying of Gabe Ben Meir.