Man Shot in Suspected Gang Attack

Man Shot in Suspected Gang Attack
By Natasha Lee and Alicia Wittmeyer
Times Staff Writers

August 10, 2005

An Ethiopian immigrant was shot by a suspected gang member early Tuesday in Jefferson Park in what appears to be an unprovoked attack, Los Angeles police said.

Ghebremicael Asmelash, 21, was a passenger in a silver Honda Civic stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Crenshaw and Adams boulevards about 12:30 a.m., when a black Honda Accord pulled up alongside the vehicle, said Lt. John Pasquariello.

The two men in the Accord asked Asmelash and his three friends where they were from, Pasquariello said.

When Asmelash responded “Ethiopia,” one of the men got out of the Accord, walked over and shot Asmelash once in the chest at close range, Pasquariello said.

The suspects, who were described as Latino males in their 20s, then fled southbound on Crenshaw Boulevard.

“We believe with confidence” that the suspect belonged to a gang, Pasquariello said, although he declined to identify which gang police believed was involved.

The victim and his friends drove to Western Avenue and Washington Boulevard, where they stopped and called police, Pasquariello said.

Asmelash was then transported to a local hospital and was expected to survive, Officer Kristi Sandoval said.

“There’s no question that these were not gang members,” Pasquariello said of the victim and his companions, who were described as black males in their 20s. He added that investigators are still trying to determine the motivation for the shooting.

The violence may be connected to ongoing tensions between the city’s Latino and black gangs, particularly in the area where the incident occurred, Pasquariello said.

Sometimes gang members will pick a random target, he said. “If they can’t find a real gang member, they’ll just shoot someone who fits their twisted guidelines.

“When a gang member is in a feud with another gang member, sometimes they’ll pick a target out of opportunity that sometimes breaks down to race.”

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