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Law enforcement broke up three ‘super-spreader’ events in L.A. County last weekend

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. book people at a party in Compton
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested 67 people for coronavirus violations at an underground party in Compton on Saturday.
(L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.)

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases and government orders to stay home as much as possible, people are still gathering for large parties.

Last weekend, a man was fatally shot at an underground party in downtown Los Angeles, 67 people were arrested at a party in Compton and a third party in Los Angeles was shut down after a shooting, according to law enforcement officials.

The shooting at the downtown party happened a little before 10:45 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of South Hewitt Avenue, said Officer Melissa Podany, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

When police arrived, they found a 25-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman with gunshot wounds. The man died at a hospital, and the woman was in stable condition, Podany said.

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Podany described the party as “large.” No one was arrested, and the shooter or shooters are still at large.

About two hours later, deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department broke up the Compton gathering in the 1900 block of East Rosecrans Avenue.

Among the 67 people arrested, mostly for misdemeanor violations of coronavirus regulations, were six juveniles. One person was arrested for possession of an illegal firearm, and there was evidence of illegal nitrous oxide use at the party, said Deputy Trina Schrader.

Photos released by the Sheriff’s Department Monday showed dozens of masked partygoers sitting on a sidewalk while waiting to be processed.

A third party last weekend in the 3600 block of West Pico Boulevard in Arlington Heights was shut down by the LAPD, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

The Sheriff’s Department could not provide a time and date for the party, and LAPD officials could not provide additional information.

So far in December, sheriff’s deputies have arrested 253 people in connection with “super-spreader” events, officials said.

With few exceptions, all public and private gatherings of people from more than one household are prohibited under health orders issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

In a news release Monday, the sheriff’s department said it will continue to take action against people that violate those orders.

“The driving concern was the fact these incidents violated the Los Angeles County Health officer orders regarding COVID protocols, also known as a ‘super-spreader event,’” the department said. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”

In the city of L.A., violations of the Safer At Home Order issued by Mayor Eric Garcetti are also a misdemeanor that can result in fines or jail time. But the LAPD has generally taken a gentler approach than the Sheriff’s Department. Podany said the LAPD’s primary goal is to obtain voluntary compliance.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. book up a party in the 1900 block of East Rosecrans Avenue in Compton
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. book people at party in the 1900 block of East Rosecrans Avenue in Compton.
(L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.)

In recent months, large gatherings have been linked to the spread of COVID-19 in several instances, including a 55-person wedding in Maine that led to the infection of 176 other people, at least seven of whom died. Gatherings around the Thanksgiving holiday have been cited as a catalyst for the ongoing COVID-19 surge in Southern California.

Law enforcement agencies are not immune to risky gatherings: An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Long Beach Police Department has been linked to a training session that brought hundreds of officers together indoors without face masks.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also came under fire for allowing a 150-person party to take place in Palmdale earlier in December, despite having advance knowledge of the event.

Villanueva said deputies watched the party commence so they could arrest the people who organized it. At the scene, they also rescued a teenage girl from sex trafficking. Nearly 160 people, including 35 minors, were arrested in connection with the party.

“This is something that is worth spending our resources to clamp down on, because these super-spreader events, if we get rid of them, we’re going to improve our ability to fight the pandemic,” Villaneuva said at a news conference about the Palmdale party.

Times staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.


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