A 14-year-old boy was being held Tuesday in the slaying of a Van Nuys man who police said confronted gang members with a shotgun after an argument and was then shot to death by the boy.
The boy, who is known by police as a gang member, was being held at the Sylmar Juvenile Hall and prosecutors will have to determine if he should be prosecuted for murder or if the slaying of Ara Papazyan was in self-defense, Los Angeles Police Detective Phil Morritt said.
"It is not cut and dried," Morritt said of the legal issues in the case.
The shooting occurred Sunday evening after Papazyan, 46, and his son Vrezh, 19, stopped at a market in the 6700 block of Hayvenhurst Avenue, Morritt said. As they were leaving, there was a confrontation with a group of young gang members hanging around the store.
"Words were exchanged," Morritt said. "As the Papazyans were driving away, they heard gunshots and thought these little gangbangers might be shooting at them."
After returning to their nearby home, Ara Papazyan got a shotgun and returned with his son to the store on Hayvenhurst about 9 p.m., Morritt said.
"Instead of calling the police, he armed himself and went back," Morritt said. "We don't know why."
In the confrontation that followed, Ara Papazyan was fatally shot in the head. His son was not harmed.
Morritt said witnesses provided information that led to the arrest of the 14-year-old suspect at the boy's Van Nuys home about three hours later.
The detective said the district attorney's office will probably decide this week whether to prosecute the boy for murder. His name was not released because he is a juvenile.