Lowell Scott Gates, the 29-year-old son of Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, has been arrested on suspicion of robbing a drugstore of nearly $5,000 worth of narcotics, Huntington Beach police said Tuesday.
Chief Gates appeared obviously pained later in the day when questioned by reporters about his son’s arrest, which occurred Monday.
“There’s nothing I can say that will satisfy anyone,” Gates said, grimacing. ". . . It’s tough on a father. He’s had a drug problem for years. He’s been in many programs. He was in a program two weeks ago. He was doing fine. Then he went downhill. I don’t know why.
“I extend my sympathy to the victims, (and) to Huntington Beach for the inconvenience.”
15 Years of Drug Abuse
The chief said his son’s drug usage has included “everything” over the last 15 years. Asked how his son got involved with drugs, Gates told reporters, “Because you and I have done a lousy job of telling our young people . . . that if they get involved in drugs, even to a minor degree, that it can very fast become (a) major (problem). It kills them.”
The chief said his son was off drugs for 10 months during 1984 and, during that time, “he was one of the nicest, friendliest people you’ve ever seen.”
Gates said he does not plan to assist his son with his current legal problems.
“He is responsible,” the chief said. “He’s 29 years old. All his life he’s been held responsible for what he does. He will get no assistance from me. He will have to look to his own devices to get himself out of this.”
In a 1982 interview with The Times, Gates said he had disowned his son because of the young man’s chronic drug problems.
“He was the light of my life, but he’s had all the help I can give him,” the chief said at the time.
Huntington Beach police said Tuesday that Lowell Gates reportedly entered the store and handed a clerk a note that read, “Don’t move. I have a gun.” He then allegedly handed over a second note, demanding Demerol, Dilaudid and Percodan.
Pharmacist Mike Fraley was given 25 seconds to fill a bag with the drugs, said Ken Wedul, manager of the pharmacy at 16881 Algonquin St.
Wedul said Gates, wearing a jogging sweat suit, never displayed a weapon. “He was very clean-cut looking,” he said. “He kept his hand in his pocket the whole time.”
Fraley ran after the robber, who stopped and told Fraley not to follow him and again warned that he had a gun, Wedul said. But Fraley and two bystanders still chased him.
Gates, carrying about $5,000 worth of the drugs, ran to his home on Malta Street in nearby Huntington Harbour, Huntington Beach police said. The residence is owned by his mother and stepfather.
Gates surrendered to police at his mother’s request and his stepfather permitted officers to search the house. No gun was found, police said.
Gates was jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail pending arraignment today in West Orange County Municipal Court.
In 1980, Lowell Gates was sentenced to 90 days in Los Angeles County Jail for violating conditions of his parole from a 1978 narcotics-related conviction. He allegedly had traces of a narcotic in his blood at the time of parole violation.