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Gunfire at Universal CityWalk sent visitors running for cover

ShootingsCrimeLaw EnforcementAmusement and Theme ParksLos Angeles Police Department
Cellphone videos captured the fatal shooting at Universal CityWalk on Monday morning
Monday's fatal shooting at Universal CityWalk was the first there in nearly 20 years

It was about 1:15 a.m. Monday when gunshots rang out outside a packed nightclub at Universal CityWalk.

Authorities allege that the gunman opened fire into a crowd after getting into some kind of fight with some patrons. Los Angeles police arrived and fatally shot the man as horrified spectators looked on.

Cellphone videos of the incident shows a crowd meandering outside of the bar, a fire alarm siren blaring, before two gunshots are heard. At that point, people run for cover.

Two bystanders were injured running from the scene but only the alleged gunman, identified as James Renee White Jr., 21, was shot, police said.

The fatal shooting is the first at CityWalk in nearly 20 years. In 1995, a man fatally stabbed his mother and the mother of his children in the mall parking lot.

“The violence is very uncommon up there,” said Lt. Robert Wiard, who patrolled CityWalk in the 1990s and after a year away at other stations, returned to North Hollywood last year. “You have people exiting the theme park, you have restaurants and movie theaters. It’s an absolute anomaly.”

Police said Monday it was unclear what caused the fight that preceded the gunfire. Witnesses reported on social media seeing bottles and ice fly through the air during the melee leading up to the shooting, which occurred at one of the only few businesses open late at CityWalk.

The dining and retail center draws more than 10 million visitors a year.
Nicole Faircloth, 35, from Anaheim, said the shooting wouldn’t dissuade her from visiting CityWalk. On Monday, Faircloth made her fifth trip to the mall with her boyfriend and three daughters ages 7, 10, and 12. They bought season passes last Christmas.

“In this day and age, it can happen anywhere,” Faircloth said. “You can't not live your life. No matter where you go, you have to be careful.”

Authorities said they don’t plan on beefing up security. Wiard said deputies typically response to alcohol-related calls involving fights or thefts in the parking structure. In a statement, Universal Studios said they consider the shooting an isolated incident.

“As one of L.A.’s most visited family destinations, CityWalk will continue to provide the most comprehensive security available,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to the safety and security of our guests and are working closely with law enforcement as their investigation unfolds.”

Police also said they are not concerned about crime problems there.

“I consider it a very safe place,” said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith. “I take my family there when they come to town. I’ve been Universal CityWalk dozens of times off duty and never had any issues.”

Times staff writer Hugo Martin contributed to this report.

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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ShootingsCrimeLaw EnforcementAmusement and Theme ParksLos Angeles Police Department
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