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Fugitive linked to gang, drugs

Ryan Carter

The man at the center of a multi-agency police search this week in

connection with the murder of a rookie Burbank police officer has a

criminal past that involves drugs and gangs, authorities said.

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Police believe 19-year-old David A. Garcia of Sun Valley, who fled

on foot following a shootout Saturday night with police during a

routine traffic stop, is armed, dangerous and “desperate.”

“We’d contacted them before,” Burbank Police Sgt. Will Berry said

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of Garcia and his alleged accomplice, Ramon Aranda, 25, who died from

gunshot wounds after exchanging gunfire with officers Gregory

Campbell and Matthew Pavelka in the Ramada Inn parking lot at 2900 N.

San Fernando Blvd. Pavelka was fatally injured in the shooting.

Berry declined to give details on prior arrests of either suspect,

but confirmed that prior “contacts” took place in Burbank.

At a news conference at Burbank Police and Fire headquarters

Tuesday, Police Chief Thomas Hoefel acknowledged that Garcia had ties

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to a local gang, and that he had been staying at the Ramada Inn for

30 days at the time of the shooting. Berry said it was possible that

the room could have been a place where drugs were kept or dealt.

“We don’t know what he was doing there,” Berry said. “But look, he

lived in the northeast Valley, and that is two miles away. What was

the reason for having a hotel room? He was using it for some

purpose.”

After the shooting, police found an assault rifle and three

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ounces of crystal methamphetamine in the sport utility vehicle

occupied by the suspects at the time of the shooting.

Hoefel said Tuesday he believes Garcia remains in the area and is

being hidden by friends and family.

Berry said that the gang Garcia is connected with is not in

Burbank.

“The gang was not active in Burbank, except for [members] who

would come back to visit occasionally,” Berry said.

Garcia is due in a Van Nuys court Friday for a restitution hearing

in a case in which he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of

taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent on Sept. 17, according

to court documents.

In that case, Garcia was arrested by LAPD officers Sept. 17. The

original counts in the complaint included charges that he was driving

without a license, and had no proof of insurance, according to

documents. Those two counts were dropped.

Garcia was ordered to serve 24 months of probation with a

suspended sentence of 60 days in jail. The restitution payment was

also ordered.

The case was apparently referred to the city attorney’s office

from the L.A. County District Atty.'s office. The original charge was

a felony count of grand theft of a firearm.


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