Confessions in Choirmaster Killing Lead to 4 Arrests : Crime: The victim was allegedly slain by 15-year-old boy during an attempted robbery at store. He had been on his way home from practice at St. James Episcopal Church.

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Nearly two months after the slaying of a popular choirmaster at a Hancock Park church, four teen-age gang members were arrested Monday on suspicion of murder.

Detective Joe Berumen of the Los Angeles Police Department said the arrests were based on confessions by two of the youths, who told police that David John Falconer, the choirmaster at St. James Episcopal Church and School, had been shot by a 15-year-old boy during an attempted robbery at a Los Feliz convenience store.

The arrests came just days after the City Council posted a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Falconer’s killers. However, Berumen said, the reward turned out to be irrelevant; the break in the case came when one of the alleged robbers volunteered information to police in an attempt to soften his punishment for a parole violation.


Falconer, 40, was gunned down April 21 about 10 p.m. when three men confronted him outside the store, police said. The teacher and musician, beloved by hundreds of students and colleagues, had been on his way home from a choir practice and had stopped to pick up a can of beer, friends said.

Leads in the case were scant until last Thursday, when a 16-year-old Los Feliz youth went to the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division offering information about the Falconer murder and another killing, Berumen said. The youth was a repeat offender who had been arrested on a gun-related crime while on parole, Berumen said. The teen-ager, he said, had offered the information in the hope of avoiding a return to the California Youth Authority.

Berumen said a second youth was arrested the next day. Upon questioning, the 17-year-old from Hollywood tearfully confessed that he, his 15-year-old brother and their 16-year-old friend had killed Falconer during a robbery attempt.

The brother, who was identified as the gunman, already was in custody, Berumen added. About five days after the Falconer slaying, he had been arrested for brandishing a gun on the sidewalk outside a business near Downtown Los Angeles.

The last of the four believed to have been involved in the killing was arrested Monday morning when police spotted a red Mazda GLC hatchback that witnesses had described as the killers’ getaway car, Berumen said.

The arrestee, a 19-year-old Hollywood man, is believed to have driven the other three from the scene. But Berumen said police will not release his name until formal charges have been filed against him by the district attorney’s office. The other three suspects were not named because they are juveniles.