Alleged triggerman in brazen daytime shooting has local gang ties, say prosecutors
By Gary Walker
The man accused of shooting a construction worker to death in broad daylight on a residential street in Venice last year is an active member of a notorious local street gang, according to county prosecutors.
Los Angeles police arrested 29-year-old Gregory Wherry, a resident of Venice’s rapidly gentrifying Oakwood neighborhood, on March 9 for the Aug. 3 slaying of 37-year-old Marvin Ponce at 7th and Brooks avenues in Oakwood.
Prosecutors say Wherry is a member of the Venice Shoreline Crips, which battled with the Venice 13 gang for control over the local cocaine trade in the 1980s and 1990s.
Police have not labeled Ponce’s murder a gang-related crime, but the Los Angeles Times reports that the San Fernando resident and father of a baby girl had prior involvement with the Northeast L.A.-based Avenues street gang and had spent time in prison for attempted murder.
Wherry pleaded not guilty to one count of murder on March 13 and remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s office.
Ponce was on his first day of the Venice job and directing street traffic when a masked man approached on foot and opened fire.
After receiving a tip about Wherry, LAPD Det. Dave Vinton and his partner Det. Tyler Adams reviewed social media posts and phone records during their seven-month investigation.
On the Instagram account @venice_top_model, they found a photograph of Wherry with the same kind of mask that witnesses described seeing on the shooter. That image has since been removed.
“We were able to compile a lot of information [related to the suspect] over time before we were able to make an arrest,” Vinton said.
Los Angeles County inmate records show that officers from the LAPD’s Pacific Division arrested Wherry related to a misdemeanor charge on May 2, 2016. More recently, Wherry was arrested in South Los Angeles on March 1 of this year, also related to a misdemeanor.
Although gang-related violence has sharply declined over the past 15 years, police have been reluctant to lift Westside gang injunctions against the Shoreline Crips, Venice 13 and Culver City Boyz.