Killings Up Over Long Weekend
A violent Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles left as many as 13 people dead and placed the city’s much-vaunted drop in violent crime in danger of disappearing.
The slayings, coupled with a persistent rise in robberies across the city, have chipped away at the decline in Los Angeles’ violent crime numbers, which are now running at 1.2% below last year.
For the record:
12:00 a.m. Sept. 9, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 09, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Weekend killings: An article in Wednesday’s California section about more than a dozen killings in Los Angeles over the Labor Day weekend, as well as a brief item in Monday’s California section reporting the first death, identified Brynhurst Avenue as Brynhurst Street.
The figures mark a pronounced shift from Police Chief William J. Bratton’s first three years in office, when violent crime fell significantly heading into the final quarter of the year. At this time in 2005, violent crime had fallen 28% compared with 2004.
The weekend slayings occurred across the city, including two sisters allegedly killed by their stepfather during a birthday party in South Los Angeles, a man fatally shot in front of a TGI Fridays near Ladera Heights and a man apparently bludgeoned to death in a wash in Chatsworth.
Among the dead was a suspected car thief who was shot by police Sunday evening in South Los Angeles.
Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said that department officials are analyzing the uptick and that the coming weeks will be crucial in determining whether Los Angeles sees a fourth straight year of violent crime reductions.
Still, Bratton remained optimistic Tuesday that the department’s overall violent crime trend -- a decrease of nearly 40% since the chief took office in 2002 -- will continue this year.
“The good news in Los Angeles is that it’s still a good news story,” he said. “We have the best systems in the country to stay on top of it. But the reality is we don’t have enough police officers and the deficit in that area isn’t going to be made up for a few years.”
Los Angeles Police Department investigators said that they aren’t sure why the Labor Day weekend saw so much violence but that it fits crime patterns that have emerged in recent months.
While homicides in South Los Angeles -- traditionally the most dangerous part of the city -- are down 15%, the number of killings in other parts of the city has seen modest increases.
In the San Fernando Valley, there have been 59 homicides so far this year compared with 52 in 2005. The Westside has seen 37 homicides compared with 29 last year.
Citywide, homicides are down 5% compared with 2005. But violent crime numbers have also been driven by a surge in robberies.
The San Fernando Valley has been particularly hard-hit, seeing a 17% increase in robberies. The trend is being fueled by bands of robbers who are targeting small businesses, among them the so-called ski mask bandits believed responsible over the last two years for more than 50 takeover robberies at Valley restaurants.
Councilman Jack Weiss, whose district includes Valley neighborhoods hit by the robbers, expressed concern about the violent weekend but said it needs to be placed in context.
“It was a long, hot, tragic weekend but the trend of the past few years suggests that Chief Bratton’s crime reduction strategy is sound,” Weiss said. “Clearly, the command staff will have to examine
Officials said it’s unusual -- but not unprecedented -- for the city to see double-digit homicide numbers during a short period of time.
A few weeks after Bratton took office in 2002, the city recorded 16 homicides in six days. The violence prompted Bratton to make what became a famous call to residents to get angry and do something about crime.
“I need this city angry about gangbangers shaping the perception of Los Angeles,” he said at the time.
The first killing of the Labor Day weekend was reported just after 11 p.m. Friday in South Los Angeles when officers called to the 7200 block of Brynhurst Street discovered a 50-year-old man dead on his porch of multiple gunshot wounds.
The next night police were called about a loud party in the 2000 block of West 84th Place. Arriving about 8:30 p.m., officers found two sisters -- identified as 22-year-old Sabrina Taylor and Charlotte Johnson, who was celebrating her 30th birthday -- had been shot during an argument.
Their stepfather, Robert Phillips, 59, was arrested and taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds and is in stable condition.
Across town, about 9:30 p.m., a 19-year-old man was found shot to death in the 11900 block of Hart Street in North Hollywood.
The killing was followed about 11:30 p.m., by the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Jesse Zimmerman, who was killed as he drove out of the parking lot of a TGI Friday’s restaurant. The assailant fired multiple shots into Zimmerman’s car.
Just after 3 a.m. Sunday, a white van pulled alongside a car near 80th Street and Western Avenue and the suspects shot the male driver and female passenger. The driver later died.
Half an hour later a teenager allegedly shot his mother to death in a home on South Broadway.
About 6:30 p.m., officers stopped an SUV on 84th Street in South L.A. A fleeing male passenger exchanged shots with the officers and was fatally wounded.
A few minutes later, a horseback rider found the body of an unidentified man in a wash near the 118 Freeway and De Soto Avenue. Detectives said the victim had a fractured nose and jaw.
The same day, a man was found shot to death in North Hills in the 8800 block of Orion Avenue.
The killings continued on Labor Day.
On F Street in San Pedro, authorities found the remains of a man in the bed of an El Camino truck. Detectives are trying to determine whether foul play was involved.
About 8:45 p.m., four men in a Ford fired at three men riding their bikes on the 1600 block of East 32nd Street. One bike rider was killed and the two others were wounded. Detectives believe the crime was gang-related.
About 9 p.m., police responding to the 1300 block of Maryland Street near downtown found a man with a shotgun wound to the chest.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
About an hour later, a man standing on a sidewalk of Belle Porte Avenue in San Pedro was shot five times, including a fatal wound in the head, from a passing SUV.
Bratton said Tuesday he’s stunned by the callousness of some killings his officers must deal with, noting the two sisters allegedly killed by their stepfather.
“It’s an unfortunate outbreak of senseless violence,” he said.
But Bratton said he is confident the LAPD has a handle on the problems and can continue to drive crime down.
While violent crime remains an issue, property crime in Los Angeles is down 10%.
“We’re on top of it. It’s not as though we are surprised by this because of our intimacy with the problems,” Bratton said. “I’m confident the numbers will still be down.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
A deadly weekend
The Labor Day weekend saw a surge in violence across Los Angeles. Here is a rundown:
* 11 p.m. A 50-year-old man is found shot to death on a front porch on Brynhurst Street in South Los Angeles.
* 8:30 p.m. Two sisters are found shot to death at a birthday party for one of them on West 84th Place in South Los Angeles. Suspect is their stepfather, who is arrested.
* 9:40 p.m. A 19-year-old man is found shot to death on Hart Street in North Hollywood.
* 11:20 p.m. A 29-year-old is fatally shot in his car in front of TGI Friday’s on Centinela Avenue near Ladera Heights.
* 3:13 a.m. A van pulls alongside a car near the intersection of 80th Street and Western Avenue in South L.A. Someone in the van opens fire, wounding the driver and passenger. The driver later dies.
* 3:44 a.m. A teenager allegedly shoots his mother at a home on the 7400 block of Broadway in South L.A. She later dies.
* 6:22 p.m. Two LAPD officers attempt to pull over an SUV on 84th Street in South L.A. A male passenger bolts from the vehicle and runs. According to the LAPD, the suspect and officers exchange fire. The suspect is fatally wounded.
* 6:30 p.m. A horseback rider finds a man face down in a wash near the 118 Freeway and De Soto Avenue. Officials list it as a probable homicide.
* 11:36 p.m. A man walking along Orion Avenue in North Hills is approached by a gunman who opens fire. He later dies.
* 6 p.m. Officers find the decomposing body of a man in the bed of a El Camino truck. Detectives are investigating but have not yet classified it a homicide.
* 8:45 p.m. A group of men in an SUV fire on three men riding their bikes on East 32nd Street in South L.A. All three cyclists are shot, and one later dies of his injuries.
* 8:54 p.m. Man is found shot in the chest on Maryland Street near downtown. He later dies.
* 9:55 p.m. A man standing on Belle Porte Avenue in the Harbor City area is fatally shot in the head by someone in a passing SUV.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.