Valley killings may be tied to other shootings, LAPD says

Los Angeles police detectives are trying to determine whether three separate killings Sunday in the San Fernando Valley are connected to other shootings in recent days.

Law enforcement sources told The Times today that among the cases detectives are reviewing are a shooting Wednesday on the 5 Freeway in Atwater Village that wounded a woman and a shooting Thursday in Pacoima that left a man dead.


LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said detectives are also looking at several unsolved shootings that may be similar to the ones Sunday, which occurred in a one-hour period.

"What the detectives will do is look back in time and look at the shootings that occurred and see if there's anything with a similar M.O. or set of circumstances," he said. "They'll have people to dig back as far as it takes."

Detectives with the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division "have been working literally around the clock" on the case since the three shootings occurred Sunday morning, Smith said. Investigators are looking for witnesses and video evidence –- anything, Smith said, to help crack the case.

"What kind of monster would do something like this – get up and start driving around and shooting people at random?" Smith said. "Until we have this entire thing wrapped up and all people that were involved in custody, we're not going to stand down. People need to remain vigilant."

Police took one man, described as a "person of interest" in the case, into custody Sunday night. Detectives believe two people were involved in at least one of the shootings, Smith said, and would continue to look for that second person unless new information indicated otherwise.

"They're going to keep digging and see if and who the second person was," he said. "They're tracking those clues down and tracking that information down until we can resolve it."

The identities of a man and two women gunned down early Sunday in the series of shootings, meanwhile, are being withheld by police as they continue their investigation.

The shootings began just before 6 a.m. Sunday when a family of five was driving in the 1400 block of Celis Street to the nearby Santa Rosa Catholic Church.

There, a 23-year-old woman was killed and her parents left in critical condition when shots rang out at 5:50 a.m., police said. Her two siblings suffered minor injuries, possibly from glass or metal fragments.

Then at 6:35 a.m., a 29-year-old man was killed in the 13000 block of Borden Avenue. He was apparently looking for recyclables at the Sylmar Recreation Center and was walking when shots were fired.

Family and friends identified the third victim, who was shot to death in the 12900 block of Filmore Street at 6:45 a.m., as 59-year-old Gloria Esperanza Tobar.

Tobar was gunned down as she was waiting for a friend so they could attend church.

Witnesses told police two gunmen were driving a tan, gold or brown SUV, perhaps a Suburban or Tahoe.

The man detained by the LAPD had barricaded himself in a house on the 13700 block of Kismet Avenue in Sylmar.