Gunfire at Universal CityWalk sends visitors running for cover

Gunfire at Universal CityWalk sends visitors running for cover
Officials at CityWalk say they won't take steps to increase security after Monday's shooting. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times)

It was about 1:15 a.m. Monday when gunshots rang out outside a packed nightclub at Universal CityWalk.

Authorities say a gunman opened fire into a crowd after getting into a fight with patrons. Los Angeles police arrived and fatally shot the man as spectators looked on.


Cellphone videos of the incident show a crowd outside the bar, a fire alarm blaring, before two gunshots are heard. At that point, people run for cover.

Two bystanders were injured running from the scene, but only the alleged gunman, identified as James Renee White Jr., 21, was shot, police said.

The incident is the first slaying at CityWalk in nearly 20 years. In 1995, a man stabbed his mother and the mother of his children to death in the mall parking lot.

"The violence is very uncommon up there," said Lt. Robert Wiard of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, who patrolled CityWalk in the '90s and, after years at other stations, returned to North Hollywood last year. "You have people exiting the theme park, you have restaurants and movie theaters. It's an absolute anomaly."

Police said Monday it was unclear what caused the fight that preceded the shooting. Witnesses reported on social media seeing bottles and ice flying through the air during the melee before the shooting.

CityWalk draws more than 10 million visitors a year.

Nicole Faircloth, 35, of Anaheim, said the shooting wouldn't dissuade her from visiting CityWalk. On Monday, Faircloth made her fifth trip to the mall with her boyfriend and three daughters — ages 7, 10 and 12. They bought season passes last Christmas.

"In this day and age, it can happen anywhere," Faircloth said. "You can't not live your life. No matter where you go, you have to be careful."

Authorities said they don't plan on increasing security. Wiard said deputies typically respond to alcohol-related calls involving fights or thefts in the parking structure. In a statement, Universal Studios said it considers the shooting an isolated incident.

"As one of L.A.'s most visited family destinations, CityWalk will continue to provide the most comprehensive security available," the company said in a statement. "We are committed to the safety and security of our guests and are working closely with law enforcement as their investigation unfolds."

Police also said they were not concerned about crime at CityWalk

"I consider it a very safe place," said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith. "I take my family there when they come to town. I've been to Universal CityWalk dozens of times off duty and never had any issues."

Times staff writer Hugo Martin contributed to this report.