Santa Monica police officers, with the assistance of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), have arrested eight suspected members of a West Los Angeles gang who law enforcement officials allege are responsible for a string of crimes in Santa Monica. One of the adult suspects and one juvenile are accused of murder.
Officers from the Santa Monica Police Department and an LAPD gang enforcement team served several search and arrest warrants early Thursday, February 8th, at residences in West Los Angeles and Venice, resulting in the arrest of six suspects, police said.
Two additional suspects had been taken into police custody prior to the serving of the warrants, police said.
The eight suspects — three of whom are juveniles — are believed to have been involved in a series of crimes in Santa Monica over the last two years, including “numerous drive-by shootings,” law enforcement officials alleged. Two were arrested for murder.
In announcing the arrests February 8th, Santa Monica Police Chief Timothy Jackman said it was “a great day for Santa Monica,” adding that some people in the community have felt unsafe and have had their lives directly affected by the shootings.
“These are folks who created an atmosphere of fear here for the last couple of years,” Jackman alleged, referring to those arrested.
“The murders and shootings engaged in by the suspects in this case are acts of depravity that have terrorized parts of our community,” Jackman alleged. “The pain and heartache suffered over the last two years has been almost unfathomable.”
Law enforcement officials have alleged that some of the suspects arrested were involved in the shooting deaths of 15-year-old Eddie Lopez and 22-year-old Miguel Martin.
Lopez, a Santa Monica High School student and avid athlete, was fatally shot in February last year while he was outside a mini-mart near Pico Boulevard and 26th Street.
Martin, an Olympic High School graduate who had spent time at the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center, was shot to death when he and two friends ran away from a vehicle near the park on Pico Boulevard December 27th.
Among the other crimes police said they believe some of the suspects to have been involved in are a shooting across the street from Edison Elementary School in 2004 and another drive-by shooting in which a couple was fired at while they were seated in their vehicle.
Another crime police attribute to some of the suspects is a drive-by shooting in which a 17-year-old girl was struck in the leg as she walked into her apartment complex in the 2700 block of Pico Boulevard.
According to police, the eight suspects arrested are:
– an 18-year-old Los Angeles male, who was arrested on two counts of murder, nine counts of attempted murder and gang conspiracy;
– an 18-year-old Los Angeles male, who was arrested for conspiracy and gang conspiracy;
– a 19-year-old Los Angeles male, who was arrested for attempted murder and gang conspiracy;
– a 22-year-old Los Angeles male, who was arrested for conspiracy and gang conspiracy;
– a 22-year-old Los Angeles male, who was arrested on one count of assault with a deadly weapon and gang conspiracy;
– A 17-year-old male juvenile of Los Angeles, who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm and gang conspiracy;
– A 15-year-old female juvenile of Los Angeles, who was arrested on one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to shoot into an inhabited dwelling, two counts of attempted murder and gang conspiracy; and
– A 15-year-old male juvenile of Los Angeles, who was arrested for conspiracy and gang conspiracy.
In conducting the investigations of the shootings, Santa Monica police collaborated with patrol officers and detectives from the LAPD West Los Angeles and Pacific divisions, as well as attorneys from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Specialized Prosecution Unit, which includes the Hardcore Gang Division, Jackman said.
Several other county agencies that are part of the interagency gang task force were also part of the collaboration.
When announcing the arrests, Jackman hailed the efforts of the Santa Monica police officers involved in the investigation and praised the LAPD as an “incredible partner.”
“The work ethic of this (Santa Monica) police department is extraordinary,” said Jackman, who recently took over as police chief.
Capt. Carol Aborn-Khoury, commanding officer of the LAPD West Los Angeles Division, said the resulting arrests from the regional interagency collaboration have made it “a very positive day for law enforcement for the community of Santa Monica but also West Los Angeles.”
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Richard Doyle called the efforts of the law enforcement agencies “a fine piece of police work.”
“They’ve single-handedly stopped a crime spree that could’ve gone on for who knows how long,” Doyle said.
Family members of Lopez and Martin who were in attendance as police announced the arrests of the suspects were also quick to praise the officers for their dedication to the investigation.
“They worked so hard,” said Arminda Lopez, Eddie’s mother.
Lopez said she always had a feeling that police would make the arrests, but the news still came as quite a shock.
“I thought I was prepared but I’m not prepared for this,” Lopez said.
Jackman also acknowledged the contributions of Santa Monica city officials, saying that they provided the resources that helped make the arrests of the suspects possible.
Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom said the arrests are one way of showing that the city will not accept acts of violence to occur in the community.
“This is a crime wave that’s been brought to a stop,” Bloom said.