6 Arrested in Crackdown on Westside Gang Violence
Seeking to end a murderous feud between rival Westside gangs, police arrested six men Wednesday and charged them in connection with two homicides, nine attempted murders and 14 assaults with deadly weapons.
During pre-dawn raids at 12 homes in West Los Angeles, Culver City and Inglewood, 60 police recovered loaded automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns, ammunition and even a photo of an alleged gang member watching his infant son playing with a cocked pistol.
At a news conference held at West Los Angeles police headquarters, authorities released mug shots of three additional suspects wanted for attempted murder and appealed to the public for help in finding them. They warned of more bloodshed until police catch the men and other unidentified members of both gangs.
“This has been a longstanding feud that has existed for several generations. It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys; no one knows how it started, but they still have an intense hatred of each other and they still fight,” said Lt. Brad Merritt, who heads the Los Angeles Police Department’s Westside gang bureau.
Police say they have no idea what reignited the feud between the rival Latino gangs but point to a July 23 gun battle as the beginning of the recent violence. Since then, there has been one shooting a day, said Deputy Police Chief Glenn Levant.
The attacks were spread out over 80 square miles of the Westside. “It wasn’t localized to one neighborhood or segment of the city,” Levant said. “These two groups would open fire upon one another on sight.”
The latest incident was a drive-by shooting Tuesday in front of a Mar Vista elementary school, police said.
One man was killed in Hollywood on Aug. 11, and another shot to death July 28 in the Oakwood section of Venice. Another shooting occurred last week across the street from Venice High School.
Two victims are comatose and several others remain in critical condition, police said. Police, fearful of more “paybacks,” refused to release names of the victims.
The eight men arrested or named as suspects belong to an “aggressor gang” that has done most of the shooting, Merritt said.
Abel Larios, 23, and Anthony Valdez, 27, were booked for murder, said Detective James Leahy. Booked for attempted murder were Albert Marestein, 19, and Gerardo Velasquez, Francisco Delatrinidad and Roberto Ronquillo, all 18.
At large and considered armed and dangerous were Daniel Fernandez, 32, William Madrid, 33, and Mauricio Mercado, 25, police said.