Police Seeking New Leads in Ambush Slaying of Teacher

Times Staff Writer

Police were checking several leads Sunday but still hoping that “someone who may have seen something” would call with information in the slaying of Hal Arthur, the popular Grant High School teacher who was ambushed and shot to death Friday.

“We’re interviewing everyone we can right now to get some motives or witnesses. . . . So far, there’s not a lot to go on,” said Los Angeles Police Detective Mel Arnold. “We’re scratching our heads.”

Grant High administrators and student leaders will meet today to plan a memorial service at the school for Arthur, who advised seniors and taught government and history classes.

Arthur was shot Friday at about 6 a.m. as he was leaving his Sherman Oaks home for school. He was about to get in his car, parked in front of his home in the 13900 block of Milbank Street. The gunman fired at least six shots at him with a .22-caliber semiautomatic weapon from across the street, then sped away in a dark-colored sedan, police said. At least three bullets struck Arthur. Police said the shooting did not appear to be random.


No Witnesses

Arnold said there were no direct witnesses to the killing, and that police were seeking someone who may have noticed something out of place beforehand in the usually quiet neighborhood. “We’re basically looking for someone . . . like a jogger who ran by there before and who saw a car parked around the corner, across the street, or something,” he said. “As insignificant as it may seem, it may be what we need.”

Arthur, 60, had taught at Grant High in Van Nuys since 1962. He and his family were members of Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood, where a memorial service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

That Arthur was “involved in the stuff that the average American person gets involved in: school, church, family,” makes solving the case “that much more difficult,” Arnold said.


Arnold said he and two other detectives working on the case full-time were checking into eight or nine calls from neighbors and Grant High sources.

He said some people may not be coming forward because of publicity about a 16-year-old Van Nuys boy who had been questioned by police earlier but was deemed unconnected to the case.

“Some people think, ‘Oh, yeah, they caught that guy,’ ” Arnold said. “He was cooperative, his family was cooperative, everything was just fine . . . and we moved on, as we’ll do with many other people before this is done.”

The youth had been transferred from Grant to North Hollywood High because of disciplinary problems after a campus fight.

“I wish we’d get the Sherlock Holmes special telephone call that will give us a clue to send us off in the right direction,” Arnold said.

The school district is considering offering a reward in the case, which would have to be approved by the Board of Education, said Shel Erlich, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.