The Comedy Store closes for a night after shooting leaves one dead

A man was fatally shot early Wednesday while standing on a patio outside the Comedy Store in West Hollywood as more than 150 patrons attended shows inside the venue.

The victim was standing with a group of people outside the comedy venue about 12:49 a.m. when a man wearing a hoodie walked up and opened fire, said Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim, a man in his 20s, was struck at least once in the upper torso. He was taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead. He has not been identified.

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The gunman ran away before deputies arrived at the club in the 8400 block of Sunset Boulevard, Jauch said. Witnesses told KTLA-TV that at least six shots were fired.

The Comedy Store said it will be closed Wednesday night because of the shooting, and will make its schedule available when it reopens.

“We are shocked and saddened that something like this happened outside our venue and are doing everything possible to assist our employees, patrons and law enforcement to ensure we remain the safe and entertaining venue we have been for over four decades,” the Comedy Store said in a statement.

Detectives planned to contact businesses in the area to review surveillance footage.

The Comedy Store was hosting a Roast Battle on Tuesday night with performances by comedians including Bobby Lee from "Mad TV," Ron White, Erik Griffin and Bret Ernst. Comedians were performing up until the shooting.

Comedian Justin Martindale, 35, said he was a judging one of the two shows held that night when he heard a sound like firecrackers.

"We kept the show going just because we weren't sure what was going on," Martindale said. "Then everyone started spilling into the upstairs room."

Security guards at the club told patrons that there had been a shooting downstairs, he said.

"Everyone is shaken up about it," Martindale said. "It's crazy, out of all places."

Mike Black, who was scheduled to go on at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, said on Twitter that all comics, staff and audience were OK.

Comedian Yoursie Thomas said deputies were releasing 10 people at a time from the venue’s parking lot.

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“Brother was shot right in front of the welcome mat at the Comedy Store. Hollywood,” he said via Instagram.

Comedian Brandt Tobler said on Facebook that the gunman opened fire on the victim 10 feet away from him.

“Just shot him in the middle of the Comedy Store patio,” he wrote. “I have never been that close to that kind of violence and it was something I will never forget. It was so scary and very sad. I guess you never know when you are going to die, but I am glad today was not my day.”

The man's death is the first homicide reported in West Hollywood in the last 12 months, according to The Times Homicide Report. 

City Councilman John Duran, a longtime Sunset Strip resident, said he was awakened by a text message around 1 a.m. saying there had been a shooting. He was shocked.

"It's very rare that we have a homicide in the city," he said Wednesday morning. The city and West Hollywood Sheriff's Station have made security on the Sunset Strip a priority for years because there is so much nightlife there, he said.

In addition to sheriff's patrols, private security guards patrol the Sunset Strip. The Comedy Store is located within the Sunset Strip Business Improvement District, where businesses pay annual fees to fund the private security guards and street cleaning.

Because of the beefed-up security in the area, Duran said he figured it "was probably one of those acts of violence where the perpetrator and the victim knew each other.... I don't think it was random."

A stretch of Sunset Boulevard was closed for several hours as investigators collected evidence and talked to witnesses.

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Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:48 p.m.: This post has been updated with comments from the Comedy Store.

10:59 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from a performer who was at the Comedy Store on Tuesday night.

9:07 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from a performer who was at the Comedy Store on Tuesday night and City Councilman John Duran.

8:15 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from performers who were at the Comedy Store on Tuesday night.

This post was originally published at 5:34 a.m.

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