Shootings Could Signal Gang War
By Jorge Casuso
October 27 -- Three separate shootings this weekend
that left one man dead and two others injured could be part of
an escalating gang war involving a Santa Monica and a Venice street
gang, according to sources familiar with the incidents.
The shootings started Friday, when a single shot was fired in
the Pico Neighborhood in Santa Monica, followed by a shooting
in Mar Vista Saturday night that left one man dead and one critically
injured and culminating in the shooting of a Santa Monica student
in the Pico neighborhood Sunday evening.
In the most serious incident -- which took place at 8:15 Saturday
night in Mar Vista near Culver City’s western border --
a 25-year-old Venice man was killed and his 19-year-old friend
was critically injured after they were shot multiple times.
The older victim, identified as Guillermo Lopez, was pronounced
dead at the scene, while the younger man was rushed to a hospital,
where he was treated for multiple gunshot wounds, according to
LAPD detectives from the Pacific Division.
The two victims in the shooting, which took place on the corner
of Washington Boulevard and Wade Street, were confronted by two
men who asked where they were from, according to Los Angeles Police.
Lopez and his friend responded that they were not gang members.
The two suspects, who were both carrying handguns, then opened
fire, hitting both victims multiple times, police said.
The two suspects in the shooting claimed to be from Santa Monica,
said high-ranking sources in the Santa Monica and Culver City
Less than 24 hours later, on Sunday evening, a Santa Monica high
school student was shot in the leg near Kansas Avenue and Cloverfield
Boulevard across from Virginia Avenue Park, according to police.
The shot may have been fired in retaliation for the previous
night’s fatal shooting, police said.
School Board President Oscar de la Torre, who stopped at the
scene, said the victim was a 15-year old student in the local
“He was shot in the leg,” de la Torre said. “I
saw blood on the ground.”
Witnesses told de la Torre that the shot was loud, as if it had
come from “a high powered rifle.”
“They aimed to kill,” de la Tore said. “The
violence is real.”
The string of weekend shootings began on Friday night, when a
shot was fired on the 1800 block of 16th Street in a violence
riddled pocket of the Pico Neighborhood, according to residents
in the area.
No one was hit by the bullet, which may have been fired by members
of the Venice gang as a warning, according to local youth who
live in the area.
The latest shootings could be part of an escalating gang war
between Latino gangs from Santa Monica and Venice, according to
sources in the Santa Monica Police Department.
The shootings may have been sparked by the homicide a month ago
of a Venice man at a street fair on Abbott Kinney that was blamed
on Santa Monica gang members, police said.
Although the suspects in the targeted gang-related killing are
not from Santa Monica, the incident sparked a series of retaliatory
shootings, police sources said
“They started coming to Santa Monica and shooting,”
as well as scrawling gang graffiti in the Pico neighborhood, a
source in the department told The Lookout. “I guess
Santa Monica decided to retaliate.”
Police boosted patrols in the Pico Neighborhood in September,
Saturday night’s fatal shooting in Mar Vista drew a dozen
squad cars from Santa Monica, Culver City and Los Angeles, who
converged on the corner near a 99-cent store where the shooting
At least four fire trucks also responded to the scene, as a large
crowd gathered to watch behind the yellow police tape that surrounded
“We had your guys out here,” an LAPD officer said,
referring to Santa Monica Police. “They think it was ‘Santa
Monica’ that was yelled” by the suspects.
“The victims and the suspects were Hispanic,” a Culver
City police officer said. “There’s something going
The weekend shootings come one year after Pico Neighborhood residents
took to the streets to stage a peace march after a string of gang-related
shootings rocked Santa Monica, leaving a dozen young me dead.
But in recent years, gang warfare has been on a downswing. De
la Torre attributes the decline to the gentrification of the Pico
Neighborhood, to programs that provide youth with a alternative
to street gangs and to better police patrols.
All told, there have been 39 gang-related homicides in the Pico
Neighborhood since 1989.
“This is an ongoing problem,” said de la Torre, who
is executive director of the Pico Youth and Family Center, which
mentors at-risk youngsters. “It needs leadership and attention
from those on the City Council.”
On Sunday, residents who live on the block where Friday’s
shot was fired held a meet-and-greet barbecue for Council member
Bobby Shriver, who is running for reelection November 4. School
Board incubent Maria Leon Vazquez and challengers Ben Allen and
Cris Bley also attended.
De la Torre then took the council member on a tour of the block,
which is where he grew up. He showed Shriver the empty corner
lot facing Woodlawn Cemetery, which was already vacant when de
la Torre was born 36 years ago.
He also showed Shriver a garbage strewn lot where a fenced, boarded-up
building will be replaced with a condominiums and the apartment
complex next door, where a dozen bicycles were piled up near the
“We have a lot of kids here,” de la Torre said. “Something
has to be done.”
The Pico Youth and Family Center will hold a panel discussion
Saturday to talk about solutions to the gang problem and efforts
to prevent further violence, de la Torre said.