Louie Rodriguez loved Hollywood’s music scene.
Last month, weeks after heart surgery, the disabled Navy veteran rode his motorized scooter with his loyal dog Hopper to attend the seventh annual Sunset Strip Music Festival in West Hollywood.
But on his way back to his home early Sunday, Sept. 21, Rodriguez was beaten near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Police had a relatively spare description of the attacker, with one distinct flourish: a young man, possibly in his early 20s, about 6 feet tall -- with “ear expander” earrings that opened a perfect circle in both of his ear lobes.
Rodriguez fell off his scooter during the assault and struck his head on the ground. Fire paramedics took the 54-year-old Monterey Park man to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he fell into a coma after emergency surgery.
On Monday, Rodriguez died of his injuries and the Los Angeles Police Department opened a murder investigation. Rodriguez’ family said they are devastated and are begging for the public’s help in locating and identifying the assailant.
“He was a trouper. He was full of life,” said Tina Rodriguez, one of Rodriguez’s younger sisters. “We used to say you don’t have nine lives, you have 25.”
She said her brother had worked in Hollywood for several years and was smitten with the neighborhood and rock music.
“He was always a rock ‘n’ roll boy from the ‘70s. And nothing could keep him away from the music,” Tina Rodriguez said.
Los Angeles Police Lt. John Ratke said the Sept. 21 attack was unprovoked. The attacker’s motive remains a mystery.
“He never stopped, he fled the scene on foot,” Ratke said. “He has a distinct look; someone knows him.”
Hours before the attack, Tina Rodriguez said her brother called a relative to say he had missed the last bus and not to worry. The relative assumed he would take the subway and eventually make it back to his home in Monterey Park. But when relatives didn’t hear from him, they reported him missing to the Monterey Park Police Department.
A Monterey Park police officer called the family three days later and told them that Rodriguez had been found lying in a coma at the hospital.
Rodriguez’s brother David, his sister Anita and Tina visited their brother regularly after they learned of the assault.
Tina Rodriguez said they initially thought their brother had been mugged, but later learned that the man who had beat their brother never took a thing.
“It was just a young punk that just bopped him and kept going,” she said. Last week, authorities released Rodriguez’s dog, Hopper, to the family’s care.“His dog was with him all the way to the hospital. His dog would never leave his side,” Tina Rodriguez said.
There have been six killings in Hollywood in the last 12 months, according to the Homicide Report, a Los Angeles Times blog that documents all killings in Los Angeles County. The LAPD is asking that anyone with information about the incident to call West Bureau Homicide Dets. Fernando Rivas or Jose Robledo at (213) 382-9470.
During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to (877) 527-3247. Anonymous tipsters should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS. Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to 274637. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.
Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.