Man Interrupts Truck Theft, Is Killed Chasing Thieves

Times Staff Writer

A man with a reputation for diplomacy and tact died Monday after he was shot while chasing a group of auto thieves he had surprised trying to steal a North Hollywood neighbor’s pickup truck, Los Angeles police said.

Darris Garvin, 37, died at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank at 12:40 a.m., about 2 1/2 hours after he was shot at Troost Avenue and Burbank Boulevard, police said. No arrests have been made.

After a day of playing softball and eating dinner with friends, Garvin, a film editor and part-time bartender, returned at 10:10 p.m. Sunday to the California Club apartment complex in the 5600 block of Colfax Avenue where he lived, Detective Mike Coffey said.


Encounters Thieves

As Garvin drove through the electronic security gate into the large complex’s underground parking garage, he apparently surprised three or four thieves who were in the garage attempting to steal a pickup truck that belonged to another tenant, Coffey said.

The thieves, described as from 17 to 22 years of age, fled as Garvin parked his car, and Garvin chased them on foot, police said.

“He ran after them and chased them for a block,” Coffey said. “He may have thought they were just juveniles and it may have gone through his mind that he could scare them. The last thing you ever think of is being confronted by a lethal weapon.”

One of the suspects turned and fired a gun at Garvin. Hit in the stomach, Garvin stumbled into a convenience store and police and paramedics were called. Police said the suspects may have fled in a light-colored delivery van with graffiti on its side.

Garvin’s roommate, Tim Biddle, said Garvin “wanted to do right, that is all.”

“That was Darris,” Biddle said. “I didn’t think it was like him to go jumping into a situation. But he worked hard for everything he had. He probably saw those guys and thought, ‘Why should they take what somebody else has worked hard for?’ He went after them.”

Aware of Dangers

Biddle said Garvin, originally from Hedgesville, W. Va., came to Los Angeles 2 1/2 years ago to work in the film business after working as a film and TV editor in the Washington, D.C., area. Although originally from a small town, Garvin was not naive about crime in Los Angeles, the roommate said.

“He was cautious,” Biddle said. “He would always mention to me when robberies and crimes had occurred in the area. He always asked me to make sure doors were locked.”

Biddle said Garvin worked part-time as a bartender at a bar Biddle manages, and never got into physical confrontations.

“He always handled every problem with diplomacy and tact,” Biddle said. “He was not the kind of person that people challenged. I am pretty shocked by what happened.”