Violent weekend prompts increased police presence

By Kevin Modesti (LA Daily News)
September 27, 2009


VAN NUYS – A 4-month-old boy was killed and a woman and man were wounded Sunday in the most wrenching among a week of gang shootings that prompted the LAPD to send extra officers to the San Fernando Valley to try to stem the violence.

The infant’s death in Van Nuys came hours after the fatal shootings of two men on a street in Canoga Park and the wounding of a man at a gas station in Panorama City, and hours before the wounding of a man in Pacoima.

The previous Sunday, a man and a boy were killed and a boy was wounded at a housing project in Pacoima.

“The Valley has experienced a terrible weekend,” Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michel Moore said Sunday afternoon, calling it a “stark contrast” with a generally improving trend in local violent-crime statistics.

Moore said the LAPD was responding with a “full-court press” aimed at catching the shooters and suppressing further trouble.

He also said dozens of extra officers from elsewhere in Los Angeles were to be deployed in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday night.

Although the shootings are thought to be gang-related, Moore said investigators so far had found no sign of a wave of gang retaliations or any other connection to explain the bloody week.

But “no one does this kind of violence in a vacuum,” Moore said, calling on anybody with knowledge of the shootings to phone LAPD detectives at 877-527-3247 (877-LAPD247). Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Police said the 4-month-old was shot just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the 14300 block of Kittridge Street in Van Nuys.

The three victims were part of a group of people – also including the baby’s mother and father – who got into a verbal confrontation with two men outside what was initially reported to be a gang party, LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said.

One of the two men used a shotgun and fired six times into the group before he and the other man fled on foot.

Andrew Garcia, 4 months old, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center. Anna Contreras, 28, who had been feeding the baby in a car, remained hospitalized Sunday and is expected to survive. Eric Ramirez, 18, who had been standing outside the car, was treated at a hospital and released.

Contreras and Ramirez were not the infant’s mother and father, Eisenman said.

The suspects had not been identified and were last seen on foot northbound on Sylmar Avenue after the shootings, which occurred in the neighborhood east of Van Nuys Boulevard and south of Vanowen Street.

The men are described as Hispanics, 18 to 22 years old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, wearing white T-shirts. One had a shaved head, and the other appeared to weigh about 200 pounds.

Meanwhile, police said detectives had identified suspects in the deaths of two men found lying in the street in the 8800 block of Independence Avenue in Canoga Park at 2:44 a.m. Saturday after officers responded to a report of gunfire.

The suspects’ names were being withheld from the public so as not to jeopardize the investigation and pursuit.

The victims were identified by police as Guillermo Mendoza, 21, and Isidor Meza, whose age was not reported.

In another incident that appears to be gang-related, a man was shot in the stomach while in his car at a gas station in Panorama City at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

Police say the victim, a man in his 30s, was inside his vehicle at the Arco station at Roscoe Boulevard and Ventura Canyon Avenue when two men in a car described as a dark black Honda or Mercury pulled up and asked him where he was from.

When the victim replied, “nowhere,” one of the suspects shot into the car. The victim was transported to a local hospital.

On Sept. 20, a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were killed and a 15-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting inside the San Fernando Gardens housing project in Pacoima. Police said those shootings also appeared to be gang related.

Police say that investigation was continuing.

Moore called the spate of shootings “a stark reminder that while we talk frequently of the crime reduction we’ve seen in the Valley and in Los Angeles, the violence is still way too much.”

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1 Comment for “Violent weekend prompts increased police presence”

  1. Phuk them cocco puff guys dat got dare cap peeled

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