Suspect in Westwood Killing Was Held by Police Shortly After Woman Was Shot

Times Staff Writer

The 19-year-old man arrested Saturday morning as a suspect in the slaying of a Long Beach woman in Westwood was detained, questioned and released by police on Jan. 30, the night of the shooting, according to the man’s brother and father.

DolDean Collins Jr., the suspect’s older brother, said Sunday that his brother, Durrel DeWitt Collins, told him that he and a few friends were picked up by police late that Saturday night when their car was stuck behind a police barricade.

No charges were filed and they were released early the next morning, said Collins, 25, a window washer with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“He didn’t do it,” said Collins. “I know my brother wouldn’t kill anyone and he wasn’t in a gang.”


Widely Publicized Case

Both Collins and his father, DolDean Collins Sr., said they think that the police arrested Durrel because they were under pressure to find a suspect in the widely publicized case that has incited debates about police deployment practices.

“They had (detained) him before, but they didn’t have enough evidence to keep him,” said the elder Collins, a truck mechanic with the school district. “Why all of a sudden did they get enough evidence now?”

More than 40 people were taken to the West Los Angeles police station for questioning on the night of the shooting, CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) detectives said last week.

CRASH detectives would not comment Sunday on Collins’ arrest or his detainment the week before. Collins is being held on suspicion of murder.

Karen Toshima, 27, was killed in Westwood Jan. 30 by a stray bullet from what police said was a fight between rival gangs.

9 Locations Raided

Durrel DeWitt Collins was arrested Saturday morning at his home in South-Central Los Angeles when police raided nine locations throughout southern Los Angeles County.


The suspect’s brother said Collins was sent to a juvenile correctional facility when he was 12 or 13 and may have had friends who were in gangs, but was not in one himself.

“He’s just an average guy, keeps to himself most of the time,” the brother said.

A graduate of Banning High School in Wilmington, Collins was going to enroll in Los Angeles Trade Tech College this month to study business, his father said.

A shotgun, three rifles and four handguns, including a .357-Magnum owned by the suspect, were confiscated by police from the Collins home in the 1300 block of W. 58th Place, according to the suspect’s father. The father said he collects guns and hunts.