A dozen people were in custody Wednesday morning following a wild night of cat and mouse between Los Angeles police and marauding bands of youths who were robbing tourists and storefronts in Hollywood, officials said.
One adult and 11 juveniles were arrested Tuesday night, and all but one were booked on suspicion of robbery, said LAPD Sgt. John Barkley. The 12th arrest was for receiving stolen property, he said.
Police said the 12 were part of large marauding bands of young people who conducted a string of robberies, assaults and acts of vandalism along Hollywood Boulevard. Many more suspects remain at large, they said.
Capt. Dennis Kato, the incident commander, said police were inundated with phone calls beginning about 9 p.m., reporting that packs of young people were roaming along Hollywood Boulevard and attacking people. Public information officer Rosario Herrera said at least one of the attacks was near the Hollywood and Highland retail complex.
Though the crimes did not appear to be related to the protests over George Zimmerman's acquittal in the slaying of Trayvon Martin, police said they believe many involved in Tuesday night’s robberies were involved in the trouble that followed Zimmerman-related protests earlier this week.
“They were not engaging in any kind of protest,” Barkley said. “I think this specific group came up to riot and cause problems in Hollywood.”
The robbers knocked down tourists and grabbed their phones, officials said. In at least one incident, they hauled off a cash register from a business.
There were no reports of weapons involved in the attacks, which victimized at least four people, according to police. As many as 50 robbers were believed to be involved in the attacks.
Kato said the robbers splintered into smaller groups of 10 to 15 people and spread through the area, regrouping at times. Police said many of the robbers flooded out of the subway station at Hollywood and Vine. The dozen in custody Wednesday came from South L.A. and Compton, Barkley said.
Police say the attackers appeared to be an organized group who knew one another. Officers swarmed the Hollywood area as helicopters for police and news media circled overhead.
More than 110 officers were brought in from other LAPD divisions to track down the robbers, Kato said, pitting police against the attackers in a massive cat-and-mouse game around Hollywood. Dozens of officers awaited orders at Wilton Place and Monroe Street.
At that intersection, two young black men were detained in handcuffs before being released with the terse explanation that they had mistakenly been stopped because they matched the general description of the robbers.
Authorities said they expect additional victims of the attacks to call police in the coming days, likely connecting the dozen in custody to additional robberies.
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