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Man Killed by Gang as He Admires View at Palisades

Times Staff Writer

A West Los Angeles man who was showing friends the view from a hillside in Pacific Palisades was shot and killed by gang members who were also visiting the popular gathering spot, police said Sunday.

There are no suspects in the slaying of Efigenio Vital, 20, who went to Asilomar Boulevard in the affluent seaside community on the Westside with several friends from Azusa, Los Angeles Police Detective Bill Humphry said.

The shooting occurred early Sunday morning as 250 police officers swept through South-Central Los Angeles neighborhoods that are more commonly associated with gang violence.

The “Operation Hammer” sweeps resulted in more than 140 arrests but could not prevent the death of a 22-year-old woman, who was shot as she stepped outside a home in the Crenshaw District.

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Los Angeles police said the Pacific Palisades shooting was an anomaly, not part of a gang incursion into the community.

Vital and several friends apparently drove to the cul-de-sac at the end of Asilomar Boulevard above Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the ocean view Saturday, Humphry said.

Another car arrived after midnight. Its occupants called out the name of a gang, then fired several shots, fatally wounding Vital, the detective said.

Vital’s friends drove south along Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica, where they contacted a police officer who was making a traffic stop. Paramedics responded, but Vital died by the side of the highway, police said.

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Vital and his friends had no apparent gang affiliation, police said.

Neighbors along Asilomar said young people routinely gather at the dead-end north of Temescal Canyon Road to drink and socialize. The police have been called before, but usually for nothing more serious than littering or disturbing the peace.

“It’s become a place where people know there’s a view,” said one resident, who asked not to be named. “There’s been more of it recently than in the past. . . . Yes, it’s unsettling.”

A neighbor woman agreed, saying: “It’s getting out of hand.”

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Another Asilomar Boulevard resident said he does not believe that any part of the city is immune to gang violence.

“It doesn’t surprise me, to tell you the truth,” said the man, who also requested anonymity. “This is a city where it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Two hours after Vital died, Sophia Barclay, 22, was shot and killed as she visited with a group of friends in a home in the 5300 block of South Ruthelen Street.

Barclay had opened the door of the duplex to give the group some air when someone fired 15 to 20 shots at the home, police said. Two other women were injured in the attack.

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Detective Paul Mize said the motive for the shooting is unknown.

Meanwhile, officers taking part in the gang sweeps arrested 144 people. Gang members made up about half of the suspects picked up for crimes ranging from drunk driving and drug possession to weapons violations and outstanding warrants, said Officer Al Civitate.

“It was just your average Saturday night out there,” Civitate said.

A similar operation was scheduled for Sunday night, police said.

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