Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Capt. Bill Williams — who heads the local Pacific Community Police Station — had more to say about those two shootings Sunday, August 15th, that left two dead in Venice and a third man dead in the Del Rey area.
Williams spoke at a breakfast meeting of the Venice Chamber of Commerce in the Venice-Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library Thursday, August 19th, and said there could easily have been a fourth fatality.
“Thank God for UCLA,” Williams said, referring to the Westwood medical center that the police captain credited with saving the life of a third victim in a 12:45 p.m. shooting at Main Street and Venice Boulevard in Venice.
Williams alleged that the Venice shooting involved Culver City Boys gang members, who shot a carful of taggers who may have been on their way to the Venice Graffiti Pit on Venice Beach near Windward Avenue, where graffiti is legal.
Police had reported earlier that two suspects in a burgundy Mercedes-Benz pulled up alongside a Chevrolet Camaro and fired several shots into the Camaro before driving away.
But the suspects didn’t get far.
Pacific Area patrol officers spotted the burgundy Mercedes on La Tijera Boulevard near the San Diego Freeway in Westchester and the suspects were arrested and jailed.
Williams alleged at the chamber breakfast that police found ammunition in the burgundy Mercedes that “was consistent with the shooting” earlier in Venice.
At about 3:10 p.m. the same day, a man and a woman walked out of a laundry at the intersection of Culver Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in the Del Rey area.
Police allege that two Hispanics walked up to the couple and fired several shots.
The woman was shot in the knees and the 20-year-old man died at the scene.
At press time, police were still looking for three possible suspects in a dark-colored Honda.
The shootings touched off a new round of concern among neighbors that there may be a new gang war under way in the community.
“I don’t want to characterize it as a gang war between the Culver City Boys and the Venice 13” gangs, Williams told the chamber members.
But the LAPD has brought in what Williams calls “some outside resources,” including members of the West Los Angeles Traffic Bureau and other resources that the police captain suggests will bring more eyes to the local community and help avert future problems.
Despite the trio of shooting deaths on that recent Sunday, Williams says the rate of serious crime in the LAPD Pacific Division is “still off” from earlier high percentages and remains the lowest among the 18 LAPD divisions in the city.
“Violent crime in the city is down 21 percent to date” from a year ago, Williams told the chamber members.
The LAPD captain says there has been a four-year decline in the number of what the police department calls “Part I crimes” — the most serious.
“But we cannot rest on our laurels,” he warned the business leaders.
He reminded the Venice Chamber members that the local LAPD Pacific Division has two of the busiest areas in the city — Los Angeles International Airport and Venice Beach, considered the busiest free outdoor attraction in Southern California.
As part of the effort to beef up security against terrorists, the LAPD is asking locals to call (877) A-THREAT (877-284-7328) if they see anything “out of the ordinary.”
Yikes, when would anyone ever see anything “out of the ordinary” along the Venice Beach boardwalk?
[An editorial aside: Did you see that article about visitors to Los Angeles — including visitors from other countries — in which they were questioned on what they thought about Los Angeles on their first trip here.
One fellow from across the pond replied that he was “disappointed” with his initial trip to Ocean Front Walk because the boardwalk was not as “weird” as he had been led to believe.
Sounds like a “rehab” opportunity for the local chamber.
We may need to bring in more “weirdos” if we are to retain the international status Venice Beach enjoys.]
But back to Williams.
The police captain said there have been more search warrants for drug and gang activities in the last three months in the Venice area.
CITY ATTORNEY — Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo was also on the Venice Chamber breakfast program.
Much of what the city attorney had to say was a repeat of his earlier appearance before the Venice Chamber a year ago.
But, as they say, the basics continue.
Delgadillo again reminded the neighbors of what he sees as “the three things” he finds necessary for good community:
1. public safety;
2. more gang injunctions; and
3. a successful effort to “take back the neighborhood.”
Delgadillo also noted that Los Angeles needs more police officers.
He pointed out that New York City has one police officer for every 295 residents, while L.A. limps along with one police officer for every 400 residents.
The problem is intensified, of course, by the geography.
While New York City has lots of people in a smaller area, L.A. is so spread out that its smaller police department has a bigger task just getting around town.
On the issue of gang injunctions, the city attorney said his office started with nine and this week will announce gang injunction #22.
“We now cover one in four gang members” with an injunction, which the city attorney says helps the city control the gang situation.
Delgadillo pointed to 340 gang-related homicides in the city and said one gang was responsible for ten percent of the deaths.
On the issue of “taking back the neighborhood,” Delgadillo said his office “needs a different solution for every community.”
Not every community in the city is similar, and different solutions are needed for different problems, he told the chamber members.
Locally, Delgadillo talked about the need to identify houses where drug dealing is being conducted.
One “nuisance” property across the street from a Venice park has been alleged to be “one of the most notorious drug houses around,” he said.
Just as important is keeping young people in school, he said.
“They decide to join a gang when they are about 12 years old,” Delgadillo said of truant students.
His department is now working “with 1,900 kids,” he said.
One of the most successful programs has been to go after the parents of truant youngsters, threatening the parents with jail time if their youngsters don’t attend school.
He pointed to one youngster who had missed an entire year of school. His parents both held two jobs and didn’t know their child had been skipping school.
“The parents never talked to their child and they had no idea he wasn’t attending school,” the city attorney said.
Delgadillo said he tells parents that if their child isn’t in school, the parents are going to jail.
“The dropout rate for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District is 51 percent between the ninth and 12th grades,” the city attorney said.
He talked about a program at Venice High School that involves parents.
Sounding like a candidate for a higher office, Delgadillo expanded his comments into a discussion of what he sees as the sad job situation locally.
To have jobs, the area needs businesses, he told the chamber members.
“Forbes just ranked L.A. 116th among 200 cities as places to do business,” he said.
In terms of “business friendly,” Los Angeles ranks behind Oakland, he said.
“L.A. has the third-highest business tax in the county,” he added. Beverly Hills and Culver City have higher business taxes, but elsewhere businesses can “walk across the street” to another city and save lots of expenses, the city attorney said.
That hurts the ability of the city to hire police and expand its efforts fighting crime and gangs, he added.
Delgadillo concluded his remarks to the chamber by claiming that if families can find jobs to keep themselves going, their children can be diverted from gangs and a life of crime.
L.A. LAND SWAP — Some time back, Patriot Homes offered to swap with the City of Los Angeles some lots the developer owns at the northern end of the Del Rey Lagoon in Playa del Rey.
The idea was that the city would get the very important lots in and adjacent to the lagoon in exchange for some city property on which Patriot Homes could build.
A city-owned maintenance yard on Thatcher Avenue in the Oxford Triangle was considered for the swap.
But that idea drew jeers from neighbors who didn’t want more residential traffic in the Oxford Triangle and from city crews that use what is called the Thatcher Yard.
Now comes Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who tells us she is considering alternatives to the Thatcher Yard, including giving Patriot Homes some of the city-owned area near the Westchester Senior Center on Lincoln Boulevard.
But, Miscikowski said the city attorney put the brakes on that plan, saying such a plan would require the city to go out to bid before it transfers that city property.
We got a chuckle from Miscikowski when we noted that she has been rather successful of late in her efforts to offer “alternatives.”
We didn’t have to mention her efforts regarding the LAX master plan Alternative D. The councilwoman was clever enough to grab that reference immediately.
We asked the councilwoman if she had a calendar date for approval of such a Patriot Homes alternative swap and she replied:
“I would hope in the next six months.”
That would get the approval passed just ahead of July 1st, when the councilwoman has to step down from the City Council because of term limits.
HOSPITAL SALE — The buzz about town is that Tenet Healthcare may be close to announcing a potential buyer that would enter into negotiations with Tenet for the purchase of the Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital.
Tenet could announce within a matter of weeks the name of such a potential buyer, we were told.
That would leave the parties sufficient time to negotiate and get through escrow before the self-imposed year-end deadline Tenet gave itself for selling the Lincoln Boulevard hospital.