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Man Arrested on Suspicion of Shooting at 2 Transvestites

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Santa Ana man was arrested in West Hollywood early Sunday for allegedly shooting at two transvestites who were walking along Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies reported.

“I’m going to kill you queens,” the gunman allegedly shouted at the men just before firing three or four shots at them, said Deputy George Ducoulombier, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

Shortly thereafter, Ruben Velazquez, 29, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and interfering with a person’s civil rights, a charge that stemmed from anti-gay remarks he allegedly made to arresting deputies. Velazquez is being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail.

The attack, which sheriff’s officials described as a “hate crime,” occurred about 3:40 a.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at Poinsettia Place. Ducoulombier said that Velazquez walked toward the men--one of whom was wearing an orange dress, a denim jacket and high heels--and uttered threatening remarks about their sexual preference.

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Both men, ages 19 and 32, then ran and either fell or dove for cover as shots rang out, Ducoulombier said. They suffered only cuts on their knees.

Deputy Philip Geisler, a canine officer who was on patrol about a block away, heard the gunfire and saw a muzzle flash just before spotting the suspect running to a car parked nearby.

Ducoulombier said Geisler with the help of other deputies pulled Velazquez’s car over and arrested him. A 25-caliber semiautomatic pistol was found inside the vehicle.

On the way to the West Hollywood sheriff’s station, Ducoulombier said that Velazquez openly talked to deputies about his hatred of homosexuals and their sexual orientation--statements which formed the basis of the civil rights charge.

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