Chatsworth Man Arraigned in Fatal Shooting of Boy
Shortly after he allegedly shot a teen-ager to death, Scott Howard Breverman led police to a 9-millimeter pistol and told officers he was trying to stop a group of youths who had damaged his BMW so they could be forced to pay for repairs, according to court records filed Tuesday.
As Breverman, 23, was arraigned on a murder charge in San Fernando Municipal Court, attorneys began to outline the issues of a case that strikes a chord about life in suburban Los Angeles.
According to police and court records, the teen-agers had been involved in a fight at Breverman’s home on Hiawatha Street in Chatsworth the previous evening. Breverman apparently wasn’t involved in the altercation, which authorities said involved friends of his. But, his defense attorney said, he believed he was under attack, perhaps by gang members.
Police and prosecutors say they filed the murder charge against Breverman, an unemployed high school dropout, because his primary interest during the shooting seemed to be protecting his expensive car.
The youths had vowed to “get even” after the first fracas, investigators said, and returned Saturday night with bats and clubs. They smashed Breverman’s blue BMW 735i, which was parked in the driveway.
Although Breverman is arguing that he acted in self-defense, the law recognizes a world of difference between protecting a status symbol and defending a life, prosecutors say.
“Basically, when a person is protecting his own life or the lives of others, there are certain rights of self-defense,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. John Asari, who filed the murder charge. “It’s different when an individual is protecting property and is simply shooting somebody who may have damaged property, rather than protecting someone’s life.”
The prosecution’s argument is backed up by statements contained in court records filed Tuesday. According to the documents, Breverman told officers shortly after the shooting: “I wanted to stop them and hold them for police so they could pay for the damage to my car.”
But defense attorney David Kenner said his client was petrified that the teen-agers might come after him with their bats and metal pipes. He was home alone with his mother at the time, the attorney said.
“He was petrified that he and his mother were going to get killed,” Kenner said.
Court records indicate that Breverman began firing while he was inside the house. Police investigators found broken glass and shells by the front door and bullet holes in the curtains. Breverman then allegedly ran into the front yard and fired more shots, Detective Tony Foti said.
One of the bullets struck 16-year-old Andy Suryaatmadja in the back of the head as the boy ran down the street. Investigators estimated that the victim was shot from about half a block away.
“This basically was a bit fight that he escalated beyond any reason,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen L. Cooley.
Although Asari argued against a bail reduction for Breverman, saying that the defendant has a prior felony conviction for a “theft-related” forgery and that investigators are still interviewing witnesses, Brand lowered bail from $1 million to $50,000.
Police have said that Breverman was also investigated, but not charged, as a possible co-conspirator in a San Fernando Valley cocaine ring.
Defense attorney Kenner said he expects his client to post bail by today.